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Pakistan-U.S. anti-terrorism dialogue: looking for ways to counter the upsurging threat
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The growing wave of terrorism has once again brought Pakistan and the United States to the negotiating table. The purpose of talks held in the first week of March 2023 was to benefit from each other's historic partnership since 9/11 in the War on Terror. Recently, terrorists have been taking advantage of Pakistan's economic crisis and political instability; thus, there has been an increase in terrorist activities. The current upsurge in terrorism is due to the weak holds over terrorist hideouts and their networks in Afghanistan, which has repercussions in the neighboring regions. So, there is a need for cooperation between Pakistan and the U.S. to counter the re-emerging threat.

On March 8, 2023, U.S. spokesperson Ned Price addressed a briefing at the State Department. He emphasized the importance of collaboration between the U.S. and Pakistan in anti-terrorism efforts. The two countries' dialogue reflects their commitment to fighting terrorism and strengthening international and regional security. According to Ned Price, terrorism is a global problem that must be addressed with cooperation.

It is crucial to highlight that relations between the United States and Pakistan have been strained in the past, particularly in the wake of the Afghanistan war waged by the United States. Pakistan has been accused of supporting extremist groups against the U.S., causing tension between the two nations. However, Pakistan has lost 83,000 thousand lives in the war on terror, which is undoubtedly a high price that Pakistan has paid for regional peace.

The recent attack on the Peshawar Mosque by a suicide bomber and similar incidents demonstrate that terrorists have a haven that can only be in Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has not been entirely effective in controlling terrorists, to the detriment of Pakistan; however, the IEA is attempting to eradicate terrorist groups from its territory to gain international recognition and fulfill its obligations under the Doha Agreement.

Pakistan sat down at the negotiating table with the United States to determine the future course of action in light of the regional military stability. Statistics indicate this is a threat to regional security, and a peaceful Afghanistan and Pakistan are in the interest of the whole region.

Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, there have been more terrorist attacks. Terrorist strikes rose by 27% in 2022. The most dangerous place is the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. There have been many terrorist attacks in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, even though violence has decreased in Punjab and Sindh provinces, which are far from the border areas of Afghanistan.

The terrorist organizations Tahreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Baluch Liberation Army (B.L.A.), and Islamic State of Khurasan Province (ISKP) pose a grave threat to Pakistan's national security. The political turmoil in Pakistan and Afghanistan gives these groups power and a safe haven to operate.

In addition, there needs to be sufficient political will to implement the National Action Plan (N.A.P.), which has allowed anti-state factions to operate freely. This has compelled the TTP to reorganize and increase terrorism in the country. 

This dialogue feels like an agreement between the two countries, which will help suppress all terrorist elements, including the Taliban in Pakistan. As Pakistan is going through a critical situation and the country is facing a political and economic crisis, terrorist organizations are taking advantage of the alarming situation in Pakistan. The recent wave of terrorism can engulf Pakistan and the entire region. The presence of terrorists in Afghanistan is not hidden from anyone. If the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (I.E.A.) does not act, it will have ramifications for the entire region, not just Pakistan.

Pakistan-US anti-terrorism cooperation has been critical to the global war on terror. While the relationship between the two countries has been complex and fraught with challenges, both nations have done their best to counter terrorism and maintain regional stability.

The US-led military assault in Afghanistan post-September 11 attacks is one of the most important examples of this kind of cooperation. With help from the military, the U.S. has given Pakistan a lot of economic aid and development to help raise living standards and make the area more stable. The U.S. has also supported Pakistan's efforts to combat terrorism by providing training and equipment to Pakistani law enforcement and security forces.

However, the relationship between the two countries has been strained, with allegations of Pakistan's support for certain militant groups, such as the Haqqani Network. These tensions came to a head in 2011 when U.S. forces conducted a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Despite these challenges, both countries have continued cooperating in their efforts at counterterrorism. In recent years, Pakistan has taken steps to crack down on militant groups within its borders, including the arrest of several high-profile militant leaders. 

Looking forward, it is likely that the Pakistan-US anti-terrorism cooperation will continue to evolve in response to changing global security threats. Both countries face a common threat from terrorist groups, and continued cooperation is essential for maintaining regional stability and preventing the spread of extremism.

To counter terrorism, Pakistan and the U.S. should adopt strategies such as addressing the root causes of terrorism, improving intelligence sharing, enhancing border security, and building strong partnerships. Addressing the underlying social, economic, and political factors that drive individuals toward extremist groups can help prevent the spread of terrorism.

Additionally, effective counterterrorism efforts rely on accurate and timely intelligence, which can be achieved through improved intelligence sharing. Tightening border security measures can prevent the movement of terrorists and their weapons across borders. Building strong partnerships can ensure that resources are allocated effectively, and efforts are coordinated for maximum impact.

Abdul Mussawer Safi is an author on various platforms such as Modern Diplomacy, the South Asia journal Eurasia Review, and Kashmir Watch. He is pursuing his bachelor's in international relations from the National Defence University Islamabad. He has a profound interest in World politics, especially in the regional dynamics of South Asia. His academic strengths are critical and SWOT Analysis.

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