ISLAMABAD – The 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States sent shock waves around the world from which Pakistan has still not recovered. Indeed, Pakistan’s participation in what former President George W. Bush called the “global war on terror” has produced overwhelmingly negative consequences, as it thrust the country to the forefront of the international community’s attention at a moment when it was utterly unprepared to reconcile the world’s concerns with its own.
Pakistan’s involvement in the war on terror proved to be far more economically costly than expected. Moreover, it exacerbated tensions within Pakistani society, destabilizing the country’s commercial capital, Karachi, by bringing in large numbers of Pashtun refugees who, having settled in the city, disturbed its delicate ethnic balance.
As then President Pervez Musharraf said in his 2006 memoir, and in many speeches since leaving office, he could not have turned down America’s request to ally Pakistan with the fight against the terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan. Musharraf allowed his country’s airspace to be used for launching attacks on Afghanistan. It made its road network available to US and NATO forces to transport supplies into its landlocked neighbor.
What Musharraf and his associates did not anticipate was that a large number of vanquished Taliban and their Al Qaeda supporters would slip into Pakistan. Among those who did was Osama bin Laden.