Pak request for Orion replacement subject to intense discussion
These were the impressions gathered during discussions with diplomats attending the 235th US national day reception from consul general Wiliam J Martin in Karachi saturday evening
Two of these three aircraft, designed for peace and war time duties, were destroyed during an attack on Pakistan Navyís fighting base PNS Mehran in May in a kind of terrorists attack that remains a mystery.Although some suspects have been arrested and a commission headed by Justice Javed Iqbal of the supreme courrt is to try them formally from next week, navy has conceded in national assemblyís parliamentary committee of involvement of its personnel in the sabotage attempt as well.
These sources, both from Islamabad and Karachi confessed that Washington is seized of Pakistanís demand to replace these aircrafts immediately, it wants the type of equipment to be supplied only for protecting its commercial lanes, extending to some 200 nautical miles from Karachi into the abian sea.America wants guarantees from Pakistan that these aircraft will not be used against India in case of a war with that country.In other words it is more interested in protecting Indiaís interests,rather than of Pakistan, despite the fact that Pakistan had always been its number one ally in the region, whether it was for Cento or Seato or whether it was war in Afghanistan against USSR invasion, or whether it is Americaís own war against Taliban or Al-Qaeda
American objections to machines equipped with war material,is least understandable.However US sources emphatically agreed that the matter would be resolved.It admits that it recognises importance of Pakistanís request and willing to oblige. However whether the issue can be resolved easily is something that could not easily understood.
The reception was a grand one,nearly 400 guests from all walks of life crowding the vast lawn at the consul generalís residence, which is still being retained by William Martin for imperial majesty. and expectations are that coming heads of US missions in Karachi would prefer to retain that house as his or her residence, although an entirel new building with residential facilies have been built and is in use at the Mai Kolachi.
Sindh assembly Nisar Khuhro, currently acting governor, and Sindh PPP ministers Agha Siraj Durrani and Pir Mazharul haq, were prominent, Ambassador Cameron Munter had specially flown in from Islamabad to be there.
He and Nisar, and the Balochistan assembly speaker Aslam Bhotani made speeches,outlining their governmentís views on current state of Pak-US ties,though each one of them emphasising that Pakistan and America were tied historically to good political and defence ties, despite these ties beoing subjected to pressures of various kinds from time to time
The Kuwait consul general Muttairi, and several other well known diplomats, other than of Saudi Arabia and United Kingdom, Mr Rohaili and Mr Francis Campbell who seem to be out of the city currently.Francis, the new UK deputy high commissioner, from Ireland, is back home for private or official visit. Discussions among participants varied from MQMís decision to quit the government, whether their decision will be serious or likely to be reversed again.Every one haad his or her views,based on his or her assessment of the situation.
But what wa surprising is the fact that many people knew that the Sindh governor whose resignation is still to be accepted, has in fact been resiging in Dubai itead of going to London as was publicised earlier after submitting resignation to Presidency following the partyís decision to part ways with the PPP coalition partners.Reports suggested that although he has shifted to another hotel he was engaged in discussions with the PPP but on why and on what subject, was not known to people.
This week there were two other parties, one given by Kaleem Farooqi, as honorary consul general of Zimbabwe at his residence and another by prominent lawyer and politician Nafees Siddiqi at his house for the German Consul General in Karachi Dr Christian Brecht.Both these parties provided opportunities to invitees to enlighten themselves with the undercurret in politics. The latest subject being under discussion was Nawaz Sharifís reluctance to fall in line with MQM, a party which he intensely disliked especially after M 12,2007 killings in Karachi, but his assetion to welcome MQM to oppositon fold and a straight forwardstatement to forget the past and give up his reservations against MQM was the most important subject drawing discussion in Karachi these days.