US mounting blame-game
The American pressure mounted to its present pitch because not enough was done to counter the earlier attacks on Pakistan from the Capitol Hill. Slowly and gradually it built up to a point where bilateral ties look like hanging by a thin thread. The only consolation came from the little experienced Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who after some shy statements on her three and a half hour session with Hillary, adopted a language to reflect on the hopes and expectations of a worried public at home. But the real stand was taken by the Army Chief, although this had to be done by foreign office or the President and the Prime Minister. It was he who countered the poisonous statement from retiring American Army Chief General Mike Mullen. The country and its honour was rubbed in the dust by Mullen when he directly accused ISI of using the Haqqani group for alleged sinister designs against America in Afghanistan. Kayani’s rebuttal was strong enough to send a clear message to the US that we as sovereign nation, could not, and should not be taken for a ride. The tone and tenor of Mullen statement against ISI was a direct attack on Pakistan—an accusation which the people in our country, were not only unwilling to digest, but felt deeply hurt by a country, calling itself to be its friend and ally in war against terror.
Prime Minister’s reaction to such an ignominious accusation, was mild and it left much to be desired. It failed to portray the real sentiments of the people, who still did not trust United States for its poor showings of the past. Kayani again lodged strong protest with Centcom Chief General Mattis who came to meet him in Islamabad. Barely 24 hours had passed, after Kayani had issued a strongly worded rejoinder to Mullen when a softening of attitude towards Pakistan was witnessed in a statement from Pentagon which held on to promise of keeping the dialogue on, and not allowing the bilateral ties to be broken. General Pasha’s air dash to Washington to explain the ISI role or to seek an explanation from coalition partners, was also an army initiative.
The question here is that this is the job of the government of the day. Army is subservient to its policies. But if an elected civilian administration, mandated by a popular vote, prefers to keep silence or muted voice and not do its duty towards the nation, then it is only creating a vacuum, which is bound to be filled by someone. Why allow a situation where such gaps are created, and that too, for no rhyme or reason. The worsening Pak-US ties and ominous statements from Washington should have been countered effectively. That was not done, which is a source of discomfort for the people who have stakes in this country. In fact they are the real stake holders as far as the country’s safety, security and integrity is concerned. Americans should have been reminded much earlier that they have failed in their duty despite having a huge army of over 100,000 in Afghanistan. There is really no point in blaming Pakistan for something it is not responsible for. The government should wrest back initiative and do something positive to stop the decline and retrieve the situation from reaching the danger point.
It is heartening to see the government activate itself for about last four or five days and now the prime minister has taken a good initiative to contact political leaders, and summon an all parties conference for a national consensus.