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American invasion on Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 attacks on the world trade center was an event of paramount significance in the contemporary world history. The significance of the invasions lies in the fact that the challenge to American prestige and stature was accepted by the sole super-power as she embarked upon the global crusade against terrorism. USA and her Western allies jointly took on the impotent Taliban regime that generated such grievous ramifications that shook the entire region. A paradigm shift and a u-turn in the Pakistan’s policy towards Taliban that produced disastrous implications for her the after-shocks of which are discernible even after a decade. The ensuing instability and chaos enveloped Afghanistan and her neighbors especially Pakistan besides possessing the potential to threaten the global peace and security.
The turn of the 21st century was undeniably highly tumultuous. The civilized world was aspiring to attain conditions of permanent peace. But these aspirations could not be turned into reality owing to the global terrorist network, Al-Qaida’s materialization of their plan to challenge the still unchallengeable sole super-power of the unipolar world. The crashing of planes with the twin towers awoke the western world from slumber and made them act in unison in the novel episode of the crusades as some were claiming the realization of theoretical clash of civilization notion. They rode on the tides of popular demand to nip the evil in the bud and crush the undemocratic theoretic regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan after their refusal to hand over the Al-Qaida chief to the Americans. The clouds of war started hovering over the horizons creating anxiety in the corridors of power of the Afghanistan’s neighbors especially perturbing Pakistan’s military led Musharraf government.
But for Musharraf regime, it was an ambivalent situation. Some promising prospects were appearing more desirable than serious implications. Pakistan had been the greatest supporter of the Taliban regime since they occupied the helm of affairs because of their utility in preserving strategic interests, strategic depth doctrine. Moreover, the stabilizing factor of the regime cannot be ruled out also as peace had returned to most parts of the country under their control besides the fact that their prime opponent, the so-called Northern Alliance, was being diplomatically supported and materially aided by India. But all these facts were over-shadowed by the prospect of securing legitimacy and international recognition of the unconstitutional military government of Pakistan. Therefore, Americans were not allowed to bomb Pakistan to stone by becoming the biggest non-NATO ally of United States and allowing them to use air-spaces, territory and air bases to attack Afghanistan besides affording logistic support and transit facilities. This was done to secure the supreme national interests at the cost of the “national interest” as no consideration was paid to the disastrous fruits that the country could harvest in this adventure.
The mild resistance offered to the invaders soon evaporated. The invaded country fell into the invader’s lap who a puppet installed a puppet regime that adopted quite stern approach towards Pakistan. Besides, the porous Durand line was crossed by Taliban and settled in the unsettled tribal regions. They infiltrated into Pakistan along with their ideology, radicalized the masses and established their safe heavens. Moreover, the spillover effects of US invasion are manifestly obvious in the form of waning writ of state, creeping Talibanization, unbridled militancy, suicide bombing, tarnished image of the country etc. The country has suffered enormous humanitarian, economic and social repercussion owing to the war on terror launched with US invasion on Afghanistan.
However, some people object that nuclear power Pakistan should not have succumbed to US ultimatum in the manner she did. It is difficult to conclude that the country should have chosen for confrontation of the USA and continued with her policy towards Taliban. Nevertheless, one thing lies beyond any disputation that had there been a democratic government at the helm, the sacred national consciousness of this conscientious nation should never have been sold so cheaply. Pakistan, then, never had to listen to the refrain of ‘do more’ even after sacrificing thousands of innocent citizens and her territorial sovereignty should never have been violated at will. There is no denying the fact that Pakistan would have derived more economic, political and diplomatic benefits than she harvested and that too with grace and honor.
To recapitulate, the US invasion on Afghanistan was a serious blow to the regional peace and security. Pakistan has to bear the brunt of being allied herself to United States and has been paying the price still. The strategic depth has given way to a fear of being sandwiched between two hostile fronts. Her Indo-centric foreign policy has lost perpetuity giving way to permanent threat perception from the western border. She has turned out to be a hot bed of terrorism and a land inhabited by extremists and intolerant fundamentalists that now has become a real challenge to her foreign policy.