NEW DELHI – The lull in headline-grabbing terror attacks appears to be over. But do the recent suicide attack on the Bagram air base outside of Kabul, a key United States military installation in Afghanistan, and the failed car bombing in New York City’s Times Square mean that the “war on terror” (a phrase that the Obama administration has deliberately sought to avoid) has reignited?
Although America and the West may have felt as if jihadist terrorism was declining in its ferocity, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, no such feeling of false security ever took hold. Indeed, the question in this region is not whether the war on terror can be wound down, but whether Pakistan, which in many ways has become Islamic terrorism’s nexus, is doing all that it can to fight it.
Here is a simple formula for assessing a country’s approach to combating terrorism: credibility + transparency + integrity of approach = legitimacy and effectiveness. Let us apply this formula to Pakistan.
Analyzing the failed Times Square bombing, Ambassador Zafar Hilaly, a well-respected former Pakistani diplomat, wrote “that nowhere else today have so many armed foreign outlaws been able to use the territory of a sovereign state to wage war for so long, and with such impunity, against other countries. [Those] who roam…unchallenged have become…partners…in a war against the country itself.” The Taliban in Pakistan, Hilaly concluded, have become an “autonomous force beyond … control.”