Pakistan Afghanistan Nexus after 9/11: Anti-Americanism in Pakistan

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The United States invasion of Afghanistan occurred in October 2001, in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, marking the beginning of its “War on Terrorism” campaign. Seeking to oust the Taliban and find al-Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden, the Afghan Northern Alliance provided the majority of forces, and the united kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, newzeland, Italy, Germany provided support.

The officially stated purpose of the invasion was to target al-Qaeda members, and to punish the Taliban government in Afghanistan which had provided support and haven to al-Qaeda. While in the ideological perspective of al-Qaeda this was to be a preparation for the “End of Time” battles which were referred to by the Prophet MUHAMMAD. The 9/11 attacks had become the focal point of the globe war against western hegemony and interest. Al-Qaeda is primarily an Arab organization, but it did not choose Egypt or any other Middle Eastern country for the lunch of its struggle. Its choice fell on south Asia, which has traditions, religious ideologies, and customs that are diametrically opposite to those of al-Qaeda’s ethically Arab members. The main reason for this choice, which might appear odd to some, is rotted in faith. The Prophet MUHAMMED prophesied that ancient Khurasan would be the initial theater of war of the “End of Times” battles so al-Qaeda set out to fulfil this prediction.

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Pakistan’s policy turnaround on the Taliban after the US invasion of Afghanistan had disillusioned the whole of the middle cadre of the country’s armed forces. But unlike his other colleagues, who remained silent critics of the policy. Critically US policy choices towards Pakistan must also be integrated with broader regional policies, South Asia has changed and so has the basis of US relations with it. But the US policies towards Pakistan are complex and imperfect. Though Pakistan is not a failed state nor a failing or a rogue state, it has had to varying degrees, tendencies of all three. On top of that, it is a nuclear power. The United States faces a great balancing act in its relations with Pakistan.

Domestic policies

After September 11, the Pakistan army knew its strategic overextension in the region, especially its support for the Taliban and, by implication, al-Qaeda, was untenable. But nearly bankrupt, the country Musharraf with both and, in turn, receive critical support from Pakistan in war on terrorism. According to the Pakistan embassy officials in Washington D.C, Pakistan has deployed more than seventy thousands of its troops to the Afghan border and has launched more than thirty eight major successful operations to flush out foreign terrorists. More than three hundred Pakistan army and parliamentary troops have been killed, and an even larger number have been injured accounting for more casualties than any other U.S ally in the war on terrorism.

Pakistan is the only regional country to have led to successes against terrorism around the world. For example all the top al-Qaeda leaders captured to date have been apprehended in Pakistan with the government’s help, while Pakistan itself has arrested more than seven hundred terrorist suspect. The country has also banned or placed on watch lists a large number of sectarian and militant organizations and has enacted numerous antiterrorism laws, freezing thirty two bank accounts suspected of belonging to terrorist organizations. Finally Pakistan is currently creating a national criminal database and is the first country to successfully install PISCES, a terrorist-interdiction program set up at seven Pakistani airports and at border crossings with India.

For its part in the three years after September 11, the United States extended grants to Pakistan equaling $1 billion and wrote off $1billion in debt. In June US announced assistance package for Pakistan to start October and to be distributed over five years. A framework agreement on trade and investment has been signed and the two countries have begun negotiating a bilateral investment treaty. The current U.S-Pakistan engagement may be focused on cooperation in the war on terrorism, especially on building the military- intelligence partnership between the two countries. Pakistan’s domestic order, specially its week institutional architecture, stillborn political process, underdeveloped economy poor educational system, unsure civil society and simmering internal tensions enhanced the potential for extremism and instability and had been of serious concern to the United States. Musharraf too realized the dangers and is trying to lead the county in the new directions.

The country has serious problems relating to social change, governance and democratization. Pakistan’s geopolitical environment remains a threat to its external and internal security and may explain Pakistan’s wariness to take bold steps especially dealing with the jihadists. Pakistan’s troubled history. India’s hope is that in time the so-called “CBMs” (confidence building measure) between the two countries will become their own reward, and that perhaps with increased economic and commercial exchanges, cultural interplay, and trends towards moderation in Pakistan, Pakistanis will develop a different perceptions of India and Kashmir. Critical issues such as energy, sharing of water resources, security and good neighborly relations may eventually take precedence over Kashmir in defining the country relationship freeing India to find an internal solution to the dispute, facilitated by Pakistan’s diminished leverage and unforced concessions. There might be gains for Pakistan in the relationship with India, but not in Kashmir, whose centrality to India Pakistan relations will have gradually eroded. On the western front, Iran, with its regional ambitions, emerging nuclear capability, strategic, rivalry with Pakistan, and suspicions of a U.S-Pakistan axis, has the motive and capability, if not the intention, to leverage Pakistan’s policies. Iran is also a rival influence in Afghanistan and an economic competitor for access to central Asia, which itself remains unstable. Furthermore, an unsettled Afghanistan, especially where the Taliban rump which has affinities with and support from Pakistan’s tribal areas still remains, can be a source of potential instability on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and an irritant the relations between the two countries.

Pakistan’s multiple problems are now seamlessly linked and need to be attacked simultaneously. Above all, Pakistan needs to change its external behavior to strengthen its internal order, rather than pursue external goals at the expense of its internal stability. These include the mullahs, whose extremism, opposes social change that may erode the feudal and social structure they represent. By offering the military civilian jobs and economic and commercial incentive, the army’s stake in its domination of political power only grows further and comes at the expense of democracy.


Anti-Americanism in Pakistan has a complex is framed by four concentric circles; general reaction to US might and power, America’s current international conduct relations between Islam and west and the west and the history of U.S Pakistan relations. Indeed, as the most powerful nation on earth, the United States provokes envy and resent-meant around the world. As for America’s international conduct, its legitimacy and self-centeredness have been under challenge, especially after September 11, did not change history so much as signaled the arrival in history of new struggles and conflicts and a dissolution of traditional patterns of power relationship. Well before, the relations between big powers were becoming at once cooperative, tense, and competitive: globalization was inciting serious discontent, the Islamic world was looking disordered, and regional dispute were beginning to radiate much violence and instability. There was a new wave of predominantly religion-based revisionism against the vestiges of the colonial and imperialist era and the domestic and international orders, which appealed to moderates and radicals alike in the Muslim world.

Pakistan and rest of the Islamic world are in ferment. Islamic societies that have invariable experienced colonialism or varied forms of western domination have been experiencing conflict in their search for national identities, political stability and effective ways of absorbing modern liberal values. They have also been coming to terms with anti-western feelings that have interloped into their culture. Across the Islamic world, the west, especially the United States, is believed to have historically complicated this search by becoming a party to this conflict. There is also a class antipathy to the ethically intolerable value system of the ruling classes, which themselves are invariably western oriented. The war on terrorism has sharpened the tensions between Islam and west.

The United States seems to be fighting terrorism with traditional instruments of power, whose bluntness obscures the subtlety and complexity of the issues involved, and with a crusading zeal that speaks of an ideological struggle and clash of civilizations. Elements on both sides see their basic value system as under siege and have exaggerated their mutual fears and busy defaming and demonizing each other.

Moral issues have been undifferentiated or confused, or sacrificed to self-righteousness. Each side is judging the other with its own ideals, ideals from which it has fallen short itself. The Islamic world especially rationalizes its own errant behavior by accusing the west of double standards. No wonder in Pakistan, liberals and conservatives alike are outraged by the mistreatment of their “national hero” AQ Khan.

Within this larger framework, the history of U.S-Pakistan relations has generated its own ant-Americanism, which is triggered by perception that the United States has not been a reliable ally and has not helped Pakistan much in its conflict with India. September 11 and U.S. reengagement added new issues to the debate. For instance, liberal aspirations for democracy have been heightened but tend to flow into anti-American channels because of governments association with the United States. These aspirations both merge with and deviate from the religious wave, as democracy and religion use the same jargon of social protest but advocate different means of empowerment.

Political Islam

The U.S. relationship with Pakistan must show some immediate results to demonstrate that there is an alternative vision for Pakistan and that it is working. The engagement must not fail because the alternative, an extremist Pakistan that itself becomes a U.S. target, will be a policy nightmare.

To be successful, the engagement must be geared toward benefitting the people, not just the regime. This will raise the people’s confidence in the country’s relationship with the United States. Additionally, the United States must not appear to be in conflict with Islam. Political Islam is not something out there on the fringes that the United States can combat and conquer. To varying degrees, it has been ingrained in the social ethos of the Muslim countries may have to make some compromises with the religion. United States has to respect not only these concessions but also some minimum nationalist and democratic aspirations in the Islamic world.

Economical and security assistance

The United States needs to find a new paradigm for its relationship with Pakistan. The weak sanctions of the 1990s that offered Pakistan no incentive for change did not work. In the future, sanctions should not be a policy option as long as there are strong reasons for the United States to be engaged with Pakistan and to help its reform efforts. Reform should be an end in itself, as a reformed Pakistan is in the interest of the United States where or not there is a quid pro quo. The United States must also help Pakistan create a dynamic economy that generates employment. The bilateral investment agreement between the two countries should be expedited. The United States should provide greater market access for Pakistani textiles as an effective interim measure for relief. The U.S. aid program towards Pakistan should focus heavily on supporting poverty-reduction strategies.

There is already a perception among Pakistanis of increased poverty in the country, concerns about rising inflation, and discontent over the army’s growing domination of the civilian institutions, not to mention a host of other internal tensions in the country. In the absence of a charismatic secular leader, the entire range of opposition could coalesce under an Islamic banner, such as happened in the Iranian revolution-where despite economic gains people rose up against the shah-as evidence of this. Its rhetoric may be revolutionary, but Pakistan’s political system is quasi-reactionary that is, it is the same civil military bureaucratic complex that continues to work under the cover of a flawed democracy dominated by feudal tribal interests.

Pakistan’s economic development will remain limited if the country does not come to terms with problems of poor public services, corruption, inequalities, in land and income distribution, social exclusion of the marginalized and vulnerable, particularly women, high literacy rates. The idea of Pakistan, the Pakistan needs a new organizing idea and an improved relationship between its provinces and center. The province of Baluchistan is significant for Pakistan’s future economic prospects. It is rich in mineral resources that are strategically located near vital sea lanes and two oil bearing regions, the Persian Gulf and central Asia.

The ability to provide such security depends upon the integrity and effectiveness of Pakistan’s political process. In other words, economic development and democracy are independent. Economic change will foster a middle class that may help lead the balance of economic and political power away from the feudal stranglehold.

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Pakistan Afghanistan Nexus after 9/11: Anti-Americanism in Pakistan. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Pakistan Afghanistan Nexus after 9/11: Anti-Americanism in Pakistan.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022,
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Pakistan Afghanistan Nexus after 9/11: Anti-Americanism in Pakistan [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 14 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from:

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