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Ashish Shukla asked: What is the impact of US Pak antiterror cooperation on Pakistani Society? What is the prospect of Pakistan becoming the other Afghanistan?

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  • Ashok K Behuria replies: Pakistan has pursued its counter-terror policy in a half-hearted manner, in spite of coordinating such policy with the US. It has tried to forge it with its other more enduring policy of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan and striking parity with India. In the process it still considers many of the terrorist groups as strategic assets which could be used against India at will. Moreover, due to uncertainty of the US commitments in Afghanistan, it plans to benefit from its continued association with such groups, which also includes the Taliban, in case of eventual US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Thus, it has been hunting with the hound (the US) and running with the hare (the Taliban) all through. Interestingly, the US has demonstrated astonishing patience with Pakistani duplicity. Pakistan's halfhearted approach has led to a blow-back within Pakistan. The constituency of Islamic radicalism has certainly grown substantially imperiling internal security in places away from the tribal belt. While India-focused jihadi groups pretend to stay within the control of the establishment, they are quietly working with the extremist groups of all shades, Taliban and Al Qaeda included.

    Most of these groups depend upon a common pool of radical elements swearing loyalty to one but working for all. The ideological differences among these outfits have been effectively blurred leading to a wild universe of radical elements eager to sacrifice their lives for the sake of a holy crusade. This has posed a critical challenge to the state and society in Pakistan. There is a view that unless the Pakistani state and security establishment wakes up to this reality soon, the days are not far off when they will be left with no other choice but to concede ground to these retrograde forces and turn into another Afghanistan. It may so happen also that their continued hobnobbing with these forces may lead to radical change in the outlook of the security agencies and turn Pakistan into a Islamic praetorian state, armed with nuclear weapons — a veritable threat to world peace. It is imperative therefore to work closely with the Pakistan army and dissuade it from continuing to pursue its suicidal policies.