Pakistan Observer

Smoothing over strains

Pak-US ties

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I A Pansohta

Saturday, June 11, 2011 - The remarks of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who accompanied by Joint Chief of Staff Committee Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen arrived at Islamabad to hold talks with Pakistan’s political and military leadership on May 27, 2011, to invoke their new rules of engagement, sequel to weeks of blowing hot and cold after the operation against Osama bin Laden. This time again, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar’s briefing to the newsmen that “talks were held in a candid and constructive mode…which covered the full spectrum of Pakistan-US relations and issues of regional stability and security, counter terrorism and peace in Afghanistan…Both sides agreed to bring relations back on track and decided to act together against any high value targets in Pakistan”

This was all part of diplomatic preamble, as salt and pepper for negotiation ground-work or diplomatic nicety for a foggy mission. As a matter of fact both sides followed ‘wait and see’ policy till the urgencies of time would disengage them to undertake more serious state business. As a matter of fact the visit was an important linchpin in the backdrop of serious introspection resulting from the fulmination of Raymond Davis’s release and a thorough re-appraisal of relationship at the time of ‘all time low bilateral intelligence cooperation’ trust deficit and breach of sovereign limits by our American friends by disregarding Pakistan’s national interests - while re-affirming imperatives of the bilateral relation to be durable and based on the mutual respect and common interests and beneficial to both sides, the US has been over-stepping prescribed international norms of territorial and domestic politics during the last couple of months.

Ms. Hillary’s statement that “we are trying to untangle the puzzle of bin Laden’s presence in Abbotabad, but I want to stress again that we have absolutely no reason to believe anyone at the highest level of the government knew.. This is an especially important visit because we have reached a turning point we look to Pakistan to the Government of Pakistan to take decisive steps in the days ahead... (And) Pakistan must take decisive steps to defeat militants that turned the relations between the two allies tense. Since the killing of Osama bin Laden relations have reached a turning point”

If we read her statement carefully, she sounded the alarm to the Pakistani leadership, intelligence community and other top-notches to pay serious attention to their demands. At the same time, she perhaps did not realize that such calls were always given but neither the US side ever provided any tangible solution or road-map for actions, nor Pakistanis could precisely re-hash the puzzle to steer their efforts in the desired direction. As such, there appears no hope for any change in future, till time; either the US changes its policy or Pakistan succeeds to persuade and convince her with new rationalistic strategy to forge mutual consensus.

Her emphasis that “America cannot and should not solve Pakistan’s problem… That is up to Pakistan. Pakistan should understand that anti-Americanism and conspiracy theories will not make the problem disappear” She was more assertive when claimed “Many of the leaders of Taliban continue to live in Pakistan… Pakistan has the responsibility to help us, help Afghanistan by preventing insurgents from waging war from Pakistani territory” Her emphasis and rhetoric that a secure, stable democratic and prosperous Pakistan was in the US national interest and a critical factor in regional stability and peace. The two sides were also of the opinion that it was in the interest of both countries that relations based on respect for sovereignty and mutual trust be carried forward.

But this time, reading extracts from Ms. Clinton’s speech was a strange experience as the bonhomie of past was missing. Since war against terror, more than 35000 people, including 5000 security personnel have sacrificed their lives. Pakistan has suffered nearly 70 Billion US dollar loss.

The country stands fractured on all fronts e.g. economic, political, industrial and social fronts. Granted, the US and the NATO partners also suffered, yet, drying up sympathies for key frontline state that no solution to her problem could be offered was not an answer, expected from her. If it is obligatory for Pakistan to provide information about Taliban, why Afghanistan has not been asked to furnish similar output to Islamabad as well? She should have lit the dark alleys by calling upon her own intelligence network to guide and help Pakistan to trace the Taliban safe haven. It appears both wrestling with the two divergent realities or a fight between hope and despair.

She did not mince her words while claiming “Taliban continue to live in Pakistan” This has always been stated by our leaders during all their meetings with the American leaders that Pakistan has neither any intention to host such elements nor state of the art technology to trace their whereabouts; that too through intelligence operators who employ physical means. Pakistan’s requests to the US to help pinpoint their location, so that action could be taken against them, have not been reciprocated in kind token. If this is not possible, other options to find a common course of action, mutually beneficial for both the countries may be found.
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