By Ammara Abbasi
When world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin laden was killed in an operation in a garrison town near Islamabad, Pakistan came under the direct statements and insistent demands of “do more’ from the US. On his recent visit to Pakistan, Leon Panetta had asked Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani as well as army chief General Ashfaq Kayani to do more to fight militants.
Pakistan is fighting a proxy war for the last so many years and is yet directionless about what conclusions it would draw. Since 2003, close to 3,000 Pakistani soldiers have died in combat, while another 9,180 have been wounded, greater than the combined death toll among Nato forces in Afghanistan. Nearly 10,000 have been wounded. This death toll is a clear hint at Pakistan’s sincere efforts to eliminate militancy and extremism from the region. However, on the other hand, 4,683 Americans died in Iraq and Afghanistan since the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) on October 7, 2001 and Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began with the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003. Of the total deaths, 3,708 were due to hostile fire, and the remainder due to non-hostile actions (such as accident, suicide, or illness).
Only this time Pakistan took a strong stance against US do more pressure and refused to indulge into any other operation in the tribal belt. In an interview with an American radio programme, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said “Imagine how the US would react if such a number had lost their lives and then comments would come from other countries, which said that, ‘You are the problem, you are part of the problem’.
There are so many tale to tell, so many experiences to share that changed the life of people and snatched away what they had. The brutal reality of the war is that wounded soldiers feel written off, all ambitions having been capped. One such story is of an army soldier Zaheer Abbas who lost all that he had until a few days ago and is under treatment in AFIRM. According to him, he and his squad were hunting down militants in the outskirts of Darra Adamkhel, a town in northwest Pakistan famous for its weapons workshops, when they suddenly found themselves under a surprise volley of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). He recalled that when he fell to the ground, his fellow soldiers rushed to surround him. “I felt nothing, no pain, but as I looked down, I saw myself in a pool of blood, I lost both my legs below the knee and two of my dearest friends,””. He is one such example of what Pakistan is going through, how it is fighting against militancy, what is it sacrificing in the name of US do more policy against militancy. But this is one example, there are so many other examples hovering over the chapter of our war against terror. If this is not enough, the Armed Forces Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFIRM) has so many stories of shattered dreams to tell. It tells how people not just lost their limbs but also their dreams of serving the nation, fighting militancy and are forced to life they never thought of. The largest number of soldiers that come to the institute have had amputations, Each year the amputees are increasing.
However, US remains oblivious to what Pakistan is doing against militancy and how selflessly it is fighting to reinforce peace in the region. It is every now and then linked with terrorist networks. Leon Panetta Called these militant groups “a veritable arm of ISI”. Having seen all this one wonders what exactly is it that US wants Pakistan to do when its already leaving no stone unturned to thwart off the militants. Now a question arises, after years of fighting this war, What more can Pakistanis do?” The answer to this question yet remains a mystery as not even US has uttered a word to unfold it.