Muhammad Wasama Khalid
Terrorism continues to plague Pakistan in 2022, with over 643 deaths resulting from terrorist acts, marking a 120% increase from the previous year.
Extremist organizations that use violence to advance their political or religious agendas are a persistent source of terrorism in the modern era, often targeting unarmed civilians and causing widespread devastation and unrest.
In the context of counterterrorism efforts, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been marked by historical turbulence. Since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Pakistan has received significant financial and military support from the United States, which has resulted in Pakistan’s involvement in various anti-terrorism operations, including the detention of prominent terrorists.
Terrorist groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda are based there and threaten Pakistan and the United States. These groups pose a significant threat not only to Pakistan but also to the United States. The security situation in the area is already fragile, and the presence of these groups has further exacerbated it. It is imperative for both the United States and Pakistan to cooperate and collaborate to combat terrorism in the region effectively.
Opportunities for Cooperation between the US and Pakistan
Effective counterterrorism operations of the United States and Pakistan depend largely on information sharing and coordination.
The United States has provided information on terrorist groups operating in Pakistan. At the same time, Pakistan has kept the United States informed about the activities and the risks of terrorism in the region.
However, there is still room for improvement. The United States can support Pakistan in enhancing its intelligence-gathering capabilities through the provision of advanced technology and training, and Pakistan can assist the United States by providing more timely and accurate information.
The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is lengthy and poorly patrolled, making it easy for terrorists and weapons to slip into neighboring countries. More manpower and technological resources stationed at the border may go a long way toward solving this problem.
Pakistan could enhance its border infrastructure and administration, while the United States could provide equipment and training to augment Pakistan’s border security capacities.
To combat terrorism in the area, it is essential to strengthen local law enforcement and intelligence institutions. Pakistan’s law enforcement and intelligence services may benefit from training and tools provided by the United States to improve its ability to detect and react to terrorist threats.
Enhancing professionalism and efficiency in law enforcement and intelligence institutions can be achieved by implementing reforms to reduce corruption and promote accountability. Pakistan can consider implementing such reforms as an example.
Obstacles to Collaboration Between the US and Pakistan
The disparity in interests and goals between the United States and Pakistan is a key obstacle to their collaborative efforts against terrorism.
The United States has important strategic interests in the area, including maintaining peace and order, countering international terrorism, and safeguarding its regional allies. On the other hand, Pakistan has its national interests, including protecting and promoting Pakistani sovereignty, economic growth, and security.
Because of their divergent goals, the two nations may be at odds with one another. Pakistan, for instance, has been blamed by the United States for funding terrorist groups. On the other hand, Pakistan claims the United States violates its sovereignty by conducting drone attacks within its territory and refuses to acknowledge Pakistan’s achievements in the war on terrorism.
The mistrust and misunderstanding between the United States and Pakistan complicated terrorism-fighting operations. There have been mutual accusations of lack of transparency, broken promises, and withheld information from both sides.
For instance, the United States has accused Pakistan of not providing enough information on terrorist operations in the area. In contrast, Pakistan has accused the United States of not providing enough early notice of drone attacks. Such misunderstandings and hostility might impede the two nations’ ability to work together to counter the terrorist threat.
The United States and Pakistan’s ability to work together in the fight against terrorism may be hampered by domestic political issues in both countries. Cooperation between the United States and Pakistan may be hampered by the country’s political instability, corruption, and the presence of extremist organizations inside the government.
Internal politics in the United States can impact its foreign policy and its interaction with Pakistan. Some American legislators, for instance, have argued that assistance cuts to Pakistan are warranted because of the country’s perceived lack of resolve in the war on terror.
These kinds of activities may strain US-Pakistan relations and make it harder for the two countries to work together to combat the terrorist threat.
Several terrorist organizations continue to carry out attacks in Pakistan and the broader South Asian area, highlighting the need to overcome obstacles. Effective cooperation is crucial for the United States and Pakistan to address the threat of increased instability and bloodshed in the region. Failing to collaborate properly could result in dire consequences, underscoring the need for both nations to work together towards a common goal.
Successful cooperation between the United States and Pakistan in combating terrorism could yield wider benefits beyond their respective borders. This collaboration can potentially curb the spread of extremist ideologies and foster community resilience against terrorism.
Suppose the United States and Pakistan fail to address their strategic partnership’s challenges. In that case, the consequences may include reduced collaboration, the growth of extremist organizations, and heightened violence and instability in the region. This could also result in deteriorating relations between the two countries, with significant implications for global peace and security.
To ensure enduring collaboration and effectively address counterterrorism challenges, it is imperative to continue efforts to strengthen the strategic partnership between both nations. This collaboration has the potential to yield a multitude of positive outcomes, including increased regional stability, rapid economic growth, and stronger diplomatic ties with other nations. The sustained commitment of both nations to working together towards these shared objectives is essential for the success of such initiatives.
*Author is a Correspondent and Researcher at Global Affairs. He is pursuing Bachelor in International Relations at National Defense University. His interests include history, politics, and current affairs. He has been published in the London Institute of Peace and Research, South Asian Journal, Diplomatic Insight, International Policy Digest, Sri Lanka Guardian, Global Village Space, Global Defense Insight, Global Affairs, And Modern Diplomacy. He tweets at @WasamaKhalid and can be reached at Wasamakhalid@gmail.com
**The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views or position of The Diplomatic Insight. The organization neither endorses nor takes responsibility for the content of this article.