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The “Terror War” and Pakistan

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By Agha Iqrar Haroon

The “War or Terror” is over or not, nobody knows yet but this “Terror War” has already affected over 40 million people during the last 20 years.

Around 900,000 people were killed and 37 million people were displaced, is the immediate answer a researcher can provide with documented proof.

Dylan Matthews, who is a Senior Correspondent of VOX online, indicates in his article “20 years, $6 trillion, 900,000 lives” that over 540,000 Iraqi/Syrians, 242,000 Afghanis and Pakistanis, and over 120,000 Yemenis were killed in the 20-year long War on Terror.

Since the medium family member count of the above-mentioned countries is plus five members so affected member count is 4.5 million. Meanwhile, over 37 million people were displaced during US-led wars since 2001. Therefore, the social and psychological impact was over 40 million people. One should remember that these are estimated figures and actually they are higher than reported because civilian deaths in countries like the Philippines and Kenya due to drone or special operations engagements are not available. The research uses only confirmed deaths that are directly due to the wars. “The Costs of War Project” estimates that between 897,000 and 929,000 people have been killed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and other post-9/11 war zones.

Not a single citizen of Afghanistan and Pakistan was allegedly involved in the attacks on the twin towers in New York City but two countries had to pay the biggest brunt of this incident. Both were attacked for years by the US-led NATO forces although Pakistan being an old ally of the United States had always expressed shyness to accept that it was under the US attack, considering drone attacks as non-military intervention inside its territory.

Between 2004 and 2018, the United States conducted 420 plus drone strikes inside Pakistan
Between 2004 and 2018, the United States conducted 420 plus drone strikes inside Pakistan

After 9/11, western countries were closed down for education for Pakistani youth, visas were denied for businesses and trade activities, scholarships were withdrawn and everybody from Afghanistan and Pakistan was tagged as a “suspect Terrorist”. I remember a former Prime Minister while talking to me in Islamabad in 2006 who said that even he could be ended up at Guantanamo Camp if he could be tagged as a “terrorist” and then his arrest could be demanded. What a horrific time Pakistan had seen indeed.

This was the same time when India filled the gap at international study visas and grants for South Asian countries and now you can see at least six percent of Indians are placed in important slots in Asian Development Bank, World Bank, International Monitory (IMF) Fund, and UN bodies.

I remember how journalists (who had been covering the Afghan war) were under constant watch and psychological harassment so most of them accepted the new norm of “embedded journalism”. We were asked to publish/cover only US briefings usually conducted in the old NEFDEC building in Islamabad. Trying to listen or report any story from families of disappeared Turkish, Arabs or Pakistanis could end up in serious trouble for journalists. So Embedded Journalism was the only way out to work in the field.

Pakistan that was “almost a terrorist country” for the western world due to its proximity with Afghanistan is now the top destination for them since the Fall of Kabul and again for the same purpose — Afghanistan. First, we were asked to help westerns to reach Afghanistan through our land and air routes and now we are asked to take westerns out of Afghanistan through our land and air routes. What an irony of history indeed.

Pakistan that was tagged as an “internationally isolated country” is now the most visited country by western diplomats and politicians.

If we look into one month’s “Diplomatic Traffic” to Islamabad, you would amaze to see that over 50 visits/contacts are reported from all over the world, mostly from European countries.

For readers, I am sharing the list of such contacts with brief information:

  • On August 15: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan
  • On August 16: Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia General Fayyadh bin Hameed Al-Rowailly called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad
  • On August 17: Prime Minister Imran Khan received a telephone call from Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen
  • On August 17: Prime Minister Imran Khan received a telephone call from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
  • On August 18: Prime Minister Imran Khan received a telephone call from German Chancellor Ms. Angela Merkel
  • On August 18: Prime Minister Imran Khan received a telephone call from Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte
  • On August 23: Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephone call from Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo
  • On August 24: IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for Pakistan’s efforts for the safe and swift evacuation of IMF staff and their families from Afghanistan
  • On August 26: Prime Minister Imran Khan received a telephone call from Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin
  • On August 26: UN WFP Executive Director David M. Beasley called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad
  • On August 26: Prime Minister Imran Khan received a telephone call from the President European Council Charles Michel
  • On August 26: Prime Minister Imran Khan received a telephone call from the President of the Asian Development Bank Masatsugu Asakawa
  • On September 4: Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke on the telephone with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
  • On September 5: Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephone call with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi His Highness Mohamed Bin Zayed
  • On September 5: Prime Minister Imran Khan held a telephone conversation with the Saudi Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister, and Defence Minister His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman
  • On September 5: Prime Minister Imran Khan held a telephone conversation with the Amir of the State of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani
  • On September 14: Prime Minister Imran Khan received a telephone call from Russian President Vladimir Putin

Ministry of Foreign Office:

  • On August 15: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a call from the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
  • On August 16: Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood briefed the Diplomatic Corps in Islamabad on arrangements made by Pakistan to facilitate the evacuation of members of the international community including diplomats and staff, representatives of international organizations, INGOs, the media, and others from Afghanistan
  • On August 16: Political leaders from Afghanistan visited Pakistan
  • On August 16: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from Denmark’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod
  • On August 16: Foreign Minister Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken
  • On August 18: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi
  • On August 20: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had another telephonic conversation with Foreign Minister of Denmark Jeppe Kofod of Denmark
  • On August 20: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea Chung Eui-yong
  • On August 20: The Chinese Special Envoy for Afghan Affairs Ambassador Yue Xiaoyong met Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • On August 21: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke on the telephone with the OIC Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen to exchange views on the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan.
  • On August 21: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu
  • On August 21: In a telephone conversation, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the situation in Afghanistan.
  • On August 21: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas
  • On August 21: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ms. Sophie Wilmes
  • On August 21: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag
  • On August 22: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had a telephone conversation with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell
  • On August 23: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had a telephone conversation with the Saudi Foreign Minister His Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud
  • On August 23: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Ann Linde
  • On August 24: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from the Foreign Minister of Australia Ms. Marise Payne
  • On August 24-26: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi undertook visits to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran
  • On August 26: State Secretary for Trade and Global Sustainability at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark Steen Hommel met Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood in Islamabad
  • On August 27: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
  • On August 27: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from Secretary for Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Affairs and First Secretary of State of the United Kingdom Dominic Raab
  • On August 30-31: Foreign Minister of German Heiko Maas undertook a visit to Pakistan
  • On September 1: Foreign Minister of The Netherlands Ms. Sigrid Kaag visited Pakistan
  • On September 1: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a video call from the Foreign Minister of Canada Marc Garneau
  • On September 2: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria Alexander Schallenberg
  • On September 2-3: Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom Dominic Raab visited Pakistan
  • On September 2: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had a telephonic conversation with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Slovenia Anze Logar
  • On September 5: Pakistan hosted a virtual meeting of Special Representatives/Envoys of neighbours of Afghanistan. China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan participated.
  • On September 5-6: Foreign Minister of Italy Luigi Di Maio visited Pakistan
  • On September 7: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a phone call from the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary (Federal Minister) for Defence H.E. Ambassador Monica Juma
  • On September 7: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from Minister of Romania Bogdan Aurescu
  • On September 8: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi chaired a virtual Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Afghan issue among the neighboring countries of Afghanistan
  • On September 8: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Zbigniew Rau
  • On September 9: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani visited Pakistan
  • On September 10: Foreign Minister of Spain Jose Manuel Albares visited Pakistan
  • On September 12: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark Jeppe Kofod
  • On September 13: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed the High-Level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan held in Geneva in a hybrid format with UN Secretary-General António Guterres as the Host
  • On September 15: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a telephone call from the Foreign Minister of the UAE His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

These diplomatic engagements nullify Indian’s dream that Pakistan lives in isolation and also indicate that the geopolitical positioning of Pakistan is an undeniable fact and foreign experts should also be careful before passing loaded statements against Pakistan in the future. Pakistan is the biggest reality of South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. However, Pakistan’s geopolitical positioning is also a threat for it and who knows what western countries are thinking about/against Pakistan after their historic defeat in Afghanistan? Who knows what West wants from us in the future and what would be its reaction towards us once western citizens are safely evacuated with our help?

Central Desk
Central News Desk.

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