What was already known to the world for long has now come from the horse’s mouth. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s candid admission that his country’s army and ISI had trained and nurtured Al Qaeda does not come as a surprise to the observers of the geopolitics of the region. However, what it reveals is the dilemma of the leadership of a country, which is facing growing international isolation for pursuing terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Having created a Frankenstein monster and turning its soil into a training ground for jihadis, Pakistan is now facing its nemesis. If Al Qaeda members were trained and indoctrinated at the behest of the United States to wage a ‘holy war’ in Afghanistan to drive out Soviets, a different set of militant outfits were nurtured to carry out terrorist activities in India. However, post-9/11, when the US invaded Afghanistan, the jihadi heroes had become terrorists overnight and Islamabad was forced to launch operations against them. This dangerous game of ‘good terrorists, bad terrorists’ has extracted huge costs, virtually destroyed the economy and made the country a global hub for terrorism, so much so that any major terror strike in the world, be it 9/11 or 26/11, can be traced to Pakistan. While addressing the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank in New York, Khan admitted that his country committed “one of the biggest blunders” by joining the US in its war on terror because it meant that Pakistani military had to go after the same terror groups it had created.
It is only natural that Khan, who has promised to usher in ‘Naya Pakistan’, is now being tormented by regret over his nation’s doomed romance with America. The latest setback has come from the collapse of the US-Taliban talks in Afghanistan, a predicament blamed on maverick American President Donald Trump. Helping the US with its plans to leave Afghanistan after nearly 18 years of war was widely seen as an opportunity for Pakistan to get back into Washington’s good books after years of being accused of duplicity. However, it appears like another opportunity on the verge of slipping away. Kabul and Washington have long accused Islamabad of sheltering and supporting the Taliban. Soon after it took birth, Pakistan plonked itself into the US cradle and became its client state. Now, Islamabad has only itself to blame for the present state of isolation in a world that is largely united in the fight against terror. By harping on the twin missions — visceral hatred for India and obsession over Kashmir, the military bosses of Pakistan have pulled the wool over the eyes of its people for long while terror groups of all hues had a free run.