Public Support - A winning Factor for War on Terror

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Recent militants' attack on Pakistan Army's Headquarters was an eye-opener for the country's already embroiled political and military leadership. Fresh waves of violence and suicide bombing across the country have created a greater sense of insecurity in society and people are losing confidence in the government's institutions. These violent acts of terrorism should strengthen resolve of the government to fight militancy in the country

For any counter insurgency operation, public support is an important and fundamental element. Without the public on board insurgents cannot be defeated. Pursuance of existing contradictory strategies, Pakistan and United States has lost crucial public support in ongoing global war on terror in the region.

Pakistani people at large believe that the Army's operations in tribal areas and parts of North West province are not legitimate as they think that government is fighting at the behest of United States. The dilemma is that these militants have not come from other part of the world, they are from with in the society, and to counter their negative influence public support is of vital importance.

Current ambiguous policies of United States towards the region are further weakening its main ally Pakistan in the war against extremists. Recent poll released by an independent organization claims that 59% of Pakistanis do not like American involvement in their internal policies and consider U.S. as their enemy number one.

The survey further explains that Pakistanis attribute prevailing law and order situation, extremism and militancy, deteriorating economy in the country to U.S. policies towards the region since Russo-Afghan war. Before invasion of former USSR on Afghanistan, Pakistan's society was very much liberal, accommodative, devoid of extremism and sectarian violence, and people were leading a peaceful life without fear of militancy.

Concept of ‘HOLY WAR' was for the first time introduced by United States to the tolerant society of Pakistan in the garb of Russo-Afghan War for attainment of their regional and global objectives. With the end of Cold War in 1988, while abandoning the region, U.S. gave militancy and terrorism as a gift to innocent people of Pakistan.

The Kerry-Lugar Bill, which promises $7.5 billion in non-military aid to Pakistan extended over five years, is another important contributing factor that is badly affecting public support for the government's drive to combat terrorism. The insensitive language used in the bill had added fuel to the already negative and anti-American sentiments in Pakistan.

United States administration and policy makers should always take into consideration the cultural and social sensitivities while dealing with any sovereign country in the world. United States needs to get away with the policy of suspicion and accusation towards Pakistan. Among allies committed in global war on terror, Pakistan is the only country that has contributed the most by losing more than 5,000 precious lives and injuring approximately 12,000 soldiers.

A soldier who is fighting militants in rugged and snow capped mountains along Durand line is in the process of losing will to fight when he comes to know that United Sates and other allies do not recognize his sincere sacrifices.

Continued suicide bombing and killings of innocent civilians across Pakistan has created a congenial environment for Pakistan and United States against these militants' outfits. This is a unique opportunity for Pakistan and United States to utilize this to the best of their advantage by winning hearts and minds of Pakistani people, which shall guarantee the ultimate victory against extremists in continuing war against terrorism.

United States and Pakistan should work in close collaboration and put in their best efforts to reach out to masses for getting them on board for eliminating menace of terrorism from the region. Pakistan's intelligence agencies lack the capacity and skills to fight and track down militants in urban parts of the country. United States intelligence organizations, which has top of the line technical equipment and expertise, need to equip, train, and work with their counterparts in Pakistan in an environment of trust and confidence.

Pakistani intelligence outfits, which have proved their potentials during and after Russo Afghan war can reciprocate in helping United States and their allies while tackling with these militants in rural areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan along Durand Line.

Renewed resolve and commitment of Pakistan in their fight against extremists needs to be strengthen by United States by building their military capacity in counter- insurgency operations, working closely with their intelligence agencies, and revise their policies of dealing with Pakistan as its 51st States and not a sovereign country.

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