Ahsan on Pak-US relations

INTERIOR Minister Ahsan Iqbal has stated that any US unilateral operations in Pakistan will be a ‘red line’ for bilateral relations between the two countries. In an interview to CNN, he reiterated that the people of Pakistan ‘are dignified’ and Islamabad desires friendship with Washington based on mutual trust and respect.
Though latest reports emanating from Washington seem to be encouraging as US spokespersons are ruling out the possibility of any unilateral action inside Pakistani territory despite threats of different nature but still one cannot say for sure what ultimate decision the US President will take who has track record of going for unconventional approach to deal with grave and sensitive issues irrespective of their long-term impact for the US itself or for the world. There are already concerns over increased drone strikes inside Pakistani territory despite reservations and protests by successive Pakistani governments. The Interior Minister has rightly pointed out that unilateral operations, as suggested by some circles, would wipe out the semblance of friendship between the two countries. It is true that Pakistan cannot respond in kind to the US in case of any such action but Americans also know what Pakistan can do on the basis of their experience in the aftermath of Salala betrayal. The United States pressurised Pakistan through different tactics but at the end of the day good sense prevailed and Washington had to revert back to the cooperative approach from the coercive one. Now the declared objective of the United States in Afghanistan is to achieve some sort of victory against Taliban to serve as face saving for its withdrawal from the messy situation but US planners and decision-makers know that this objective cannot be achieved without sincere cooperation of Pakistan. It is a universally acknowledged fact that Pakistan Army has almost defeated terrorists on Pakistani soil but the US wants Pakistan to practically take part in ground operations in Afghanistan, which no sane person in the country would approve of. The United States and Afghanistan should better initiate a substantive dialogue process with Taliban who have already shown willingness for such parleys. Taliban are a reality and cannot be wiped out from Afghan scene as per wishes of some vested interests.

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