Democracy always favors dialogue over confrontation. So, too, in Pakistan, where the terrorists who threaten both our country and the United States have gained the most from the recent verbal assaults
some in America have made against Pakistan. This strategy is damaging the relationship between Pakistan and the United States and compromising common goals in defeating terrorism, extremism and fanaticism.
It is time for the rhetoric to cool and for serious dialogue between allies to resume.
Pakistan sits on many critical fault lines. Terrorism is not a statistic for us. Our geopolitical location forces us to look to a future where the great global wars will be fought on the battleground of ideas. From the Middle East to South Asia, a hurricane of change is transforming closed societies into marketplaces of competing narratives. The contest between the incendiary politics of extremism and the slow burn of modern democracy is already being fought in every village filled with cellphones, in every schoolroom, on every television talk show. It is a battle that moderation must win.
Our motives are simple. We have a huge population of young people who have few choices in life. Our task is to turn this demographic challenge into a dividend for democracy and pluralism, where the embrace of tolerance elbows out the lure of extremism, where jobs turn desolation into opportunity and empowerment, where plowshares take the place of guns, where women and minorities have a meaningful place in society.
None of this vision for a new Pakistan is premised on the politics of victimhood. It pivots on a worldview where we fight the war against extremism and terrorism as our battle, at every precinct and until the last person, even though we lack the resources to match our commitment. When Pakistan seeks support, we look for trade that will make us sustainable, not aid that will bind us in transactional ties. When we commit to a partnership against terrorism, we do it in the hope that our joint goals will be addressed. When we add our shoulder to the battle, we look for outcomes that leave us stronger.
Yet as Pakistan is pounded by the ravages of globally driven climate change, with floods once again making millions of our citizens homeless, we find that, instead of a dialogue with our closest strategic ally, we are spoken to instead of being heard. We are being battered by nature and by our friends. This has shocked a nation that is bearing the brunt of the terrorist whirlwind in the region. And why?
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the world’s most powerful democracy compromised its fundamental values to accommodate a dictator in Pakistan. Since then we have lost 30,000 innocent civilians and 5,000 military and police officers to the militant mind-set that the U.S. government is now charging that we support. We have suffered more than 300 suicide bomb attacks by the forces that allegedly find sanctuary within our borders. We have hemorrhaged approximately $100 billion directly in the war effort and tens of billions more in lost foreign investment. The war is being fought in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, yet Washington has invested almost nothing on our side of the border and hundreds of billions of dollars on the other side.