Saturday Mar 18, 2017
“Our citizens, just like yours [United States], are peace-loving people, seeking nothing more than stability, freedom and hope for our children,” wrote Asif Ali Zardari in a guest post for Forbes.com.
The former president and husband of Benazir Bhutto discussed the role of billions of dollars invested by the United States in Pakistan over the course of fifteen years noted that the high price of “this investment” brought greater stability in the country and reduced threat from extremists, however, the “well of goodwill from which we [Pakistan] can draw is not endless.”
Zardari emphasised that Pakistan, which he believes remains a potential flashpoint for South Asia and the world, should carry more of its own weight while increasing military and commercial cooperation with its allies.
“The terrorists who attack our people here are the same who attack Americans and other innocents abroad,” he wrote, elaborating on how the US should continue to be Pakistan’s partner. He reasoned how the US war on terror is not just drawn from goodwill but the country’s self-interest to eliminate ideas that it disagrees with.
The Pakistani politician said that the democratic values and transparency under Nawaz Sharif’s rule has “back-slid” but the foundations built during his tenure as president yielded tangible results including but not limited to rooting out extremists’ safe havens, dismantling Al-Qaeda’s networks in the region, and seizing nearly 200 tons of improvised explosive device precursors. “These successes come at no small price. Pakistan has lost over 60,000 people, both civilian and military, as a direct result of offensives against terrorist networks.” He further stated that Pakistan has incurred over $60 billion in economic costs in the war on terror, and the cost only continues to spiral up with passing time.
“Sadly, many in Congress fail to recognise these hard-won victories, cutting off hundreds of millions of dollars in reimbursements to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), a US program for costs incurred in supporting counter-terrorist operations,” Zardari wrote. The former president said the entire effort of combing out the region seems to be going to waste as terrorists continue to slip over the borders, evident from recent incidents of terrorism in Afghanistan.
Discussing the US’ role in building Pakistan economy, home to the world’s second-fastest-growing stock exchange, Zardari noted that stability has been restored in the country’s economy after nearly half a decade of growth. He expressed hope that the US will continue to nurture Pakistan’s economy, which he believes is “poised for an even greater advancement in 2017.”