Terrorism is at a peak in Pakistan. Blasts are occurring more and more frequently. Just two days ago, a huge bomb blast was reported to have struck a funeral in western Pakistan, killing at least 44 people. Pakistan’s Quetta region is under fresh attacks, months after the shocking incident in February that affected more than 200 people.
The touchiest, most sensitive topic of communication between the U.S. and Pakistan seems to be terrorism. Pakistan insists that it takes the war on terror seriously, but the U.S., on the other hand, thinks that that it just isn’t doing enough. Relations between the two countries are at a strained stage, reasons include the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, drone strikes, and the displeasure of the U.S. at Pakistan’s support for the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan who are fighting western troops.
What is new, however, is that Obama's said that the controversial drone attacks on Pakistan will end and that he will seek new war limits on the war on terror. Drone attacks seem to have done more harm than good. The United Nations terrorism and human rights envoy has declared them "illegal." Hundreds of civilians are said to have lost their lives in these attacks. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a recent interview, supported Obama’s statements and said that there is “a very real timeline" for eliminating drone strikes in the Asian country, and that he hoped they would cease “very, very soon.”
Tensions between India and Pakistan have also escalated recently, with the killing of five soldiers in the LOC (Line of Control) in Kashmir. Finger-pointing has since taken place, with conflicting reports of Pakistan being involved, which Islamabad in turn refuted. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is the main opposition party in the Indian Parliament, vociferously demanded that all talks between Islamabad and New Delhi be terminated. Tensions are still at a high between the two countries.
Amidst all this, Pakistan is also in dire need of support and feels that the U.S. is focusing more attention on fostering Indian ties that with its old ally. Nawaz Sharif’s success in the elections might help in mending these ties, with a new report saying that Kerry has agreed to resume high-level talks on security issues. But as to how productive the talks will be ... that remains to be seen.
Going off of the reports, the United Nations seems to be more proactive in promoting peace in Pakistan than the U.S. Ban Ki-moon has scheduled a visit to Pakistan. He will arrive there for a two-day visit with Pakistani leaders and focus on steps for polio eradication and promotion of education, especially education for women. Women's literacy is at a low, with elements threatening to attack women who wish to study. Brave individuals like Malala Yousafzai are campaigning for literacy, but there still is a long way to go. Ki-moon’s call to the international bodies to come to the aid of flood ravaged Pakistan has been welcomed by Oxfam.
Pakistan is under a terrorism siege. It therefore remains to be seen if this stated intention of the U.S. with respect to drone attacks — if it ever transforms into action — will sufficiently motivate Pakistan to redeem itself. Perhaps not. As long Pakistan continues to spread its resources thin by constantly testing the delicate relationship between itself and India on the one hand and with Afghanistan on the other through its own incursions, and through sponsorship and encouragement of third-party involvement, it will be difficult to see significant and lasting change.
Pakistan also has to contend with a weak political system, and a military with a mind of its own. The fact therefore is that Pakistan is currently as much a victim of its own internal turbulence as it is the inventor of them.
Alleviating terror is in the interest of both the U.S. and Pakistan. It might well be that Ki-moon’s approach — that of exhorting Pakistan to improve its internal processes — is better geared to bring lasting peace that that of the U.S., characterized by significantly more impatience.