Implications of Politics of Security for Pakistan: Since 9/11 to Fall of Kabul

The occurrence of 9/11 in the heart of USA changed the dynamics of the whole world let alone Pakistan. It initiated the era of securitization in the world where the main essence of every major policy in the global context was being derived by the international politics of security. And it was practically being advocated and pursued forward by the United States of America (USA). Over the past two decades Pakistan has been the direct victim of this politics pertaining to security where the international urgency surrounding the global war on terror forced Pakistan to begin the era of strategic shift in terms of its Afghan policy and become part of the international efforts of defeating Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It was not merely attack on the Twin Towers or the partial destruction of the Pentagon, it was what followed after that in terms of the US response to that attack and secondly its impact which engulfed nearly the whole world. After the attack, USA launched the global war on terror which was not specified to the borders of any one country. It got worse with Afghan Government’s alleged support for Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. USA was looking for allies in different continents of the world to as the 9/11 attacks changed the global political scenario and now in order to curate a collective response USA needed a strong ally in every region of the world. This created an environment of “politics of security” which was being driven by USA. Many decisions on the global level in the next two decades were to be taken in the context of the global security that was being threatened by the terrorism ignited after the 9/11 attacks. The blatant disregard of international law and international organizations, after the attack on the world trade center, by the United States of America is testimony of the result of the urgency and immediate action that was aimed at justifying the extraordinary measures. The by-passing of just war compulsions, absolute entitlement driving their policy matrix caused dilemma for Pakistan where the burn of being neighbors of the state invaded by USA was going to create plethora of the implications almost in every field of life. Owing to the geographic location of Pakistan, its role became extremely vital in fighting the war against the Taliban in USA which caused national security complications for the country.

The mode of cooperation that was devised between Pakistan and USA after 9/11 was clouded with unequal stature of relationship which resulted in the shape of significant consequences for Pakistan. US-led military operations in Afghanistan became the cause of changed strategic conditions for Pakistan, Pakistan suffered immensely at political and strategic fronts due to the changed geopolitical realities after 9/11. The degree of the implications mainly driven by the US politics of security caused huge dent on overall sustainable development of the country where an already gradually developing country was faced with additional military and strategic compulsions due to being cooperative partner of USA in war on terror. Despite being the partners, there were many points of divergences between USA and Pakistan on various policy issues ranging from USA’s covert operation in Pakistan, drone attacks to USA’s strategic partnership. This imparted another layer of implications on Pakistan’s state fabric, which includes economic, military, political and social implications.

Along with that the sudden fall of Kabul after the retreat of NATO forces has raised questions related to the future of the regional dynamics in the context of security and strategic concerns and implications that may arise for Pakistan in the near future. The threat from ISIS-K, internal power struggle between local leadership and many domestic social indicators such as poverty and corruption etc. are few of the challenges that any eventual governmental setting  would have to face insistently and that will have its spillover effect on Pakistan.

If one maps Pakistan’s role in war on terror over the 20 years, it can been seen that Pakistan was part of joint military efforts through operation Al-Mizan and Sher Dil in USA’s Enduring Freedom. Moreover, Pakistan was part of peace efforts through Operation Rah-e-Haq, Rah-e-Nijat, Rah-e Rast, Zarb-e-Azab, Radd-ul-Fassad. But the strategic shift that Pakistan had to make costed heavily on its human and material matrix. The creation of  Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) , USA’s reiteration of ‘do more’, India’s increasing role in disruption of the security situation in Pakistan, wave of terrorism infested with the fatal occurrence of the  suicide bombings were some of the glaring implications in the realm security. According to the statistics accumulated Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) , around more than 80,000 causalities have been occurred along with the economic set-back of more than $150 billion. Furthermore, as a society the impact of terrorism was far worse as a whole generation especially, in KP and the tribal belt had to grow up in the war-stricken conditions where suicide bomb every other day was a new normal. The constant focus on security dynamic caused the reduction in the human security policy matters in return impacting the overall developmental and institutional evolution in the country.

9/11 has stimulated the world around the framework of global security which is clouded by American point of view. This framework manifests the necessity of the exceptional measures in the realm of war on terror. Many countries have had considerable impacts after the occurrence of 9/11 in their respective national dynamics. But the implications that were faced by Pakistan exceed the intensity of the impact experienced by any country.

Pakistan still is bearing the cost of politics of security in the form of persistent implications in various realms ranging from security to social and from political to economical. Its military and civilian leadership even had to face flak for taking certain steps which were considered as the violation of the sovereignty of the country and sanctity of its people. The historical and current amalgamation of Pakistan’s national security with the happenings in Afghanistan is too deep to be scraped out of its policy framework since the geographical compulsions cannot be terminated. But post fall of Kabul scenario for Pakistan is as uncertain as it was for the world. The prospect of Pakistan’s regional standing after any new set up in Afghanistan very persistently depends on the intensity of the politics of security that still may prevail in Afghanistan by USA.

Ajwa Hijazi
Ajwa Hijazi
I am student of Mphil peace and conflict studies in NDU Islamabad striving to learn more every day.