The Pak-US deadlock
By: Azam Khalil | June 14, 2012 | 0
Apology is only egotism
wrong side out.
When conventional wisdom fails, relations between countries often lead to a deadlock. The situation is no different with the Pak-US relationship. It has dropped to an all-time low.
In the past, the Pak-US relations have always been testy because successive administrations in Washington tried to extract all sorts of benefits from Pakistan but never reciprocated. The present deadlock, however, started when the US-led Nato forces in an unprovoked attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at the Salala checkpost situated on the Pak-Afghan border.
The hostile situation that emerged after the incident would have settled, if the US leadership had apologised with a commitment not to repeat it. But as expected, it refused to do so because it is conducting its foreign policy mostly on unilateral actions ignoring all international norms. Instead, the US initiated an inquiry into the Salala tragedy after which it blamed Pakistan for it.
As if that was not enough, Washington demanded that Pakistan escalate its effort in the war on terror to ensure the safety of US-Nato forces in Afghanistan. It also refused to pay Pakistan the amount that was due to it under the reimbursement policy agreed to between the two countries. In fact, it used coercive methods to achieve its strategic goals by imposing sanctions on the purchase of military equipment and stopping of development aid to this country.
So, the Pakistani government referred the issue to Parliament that after deliberations came out with several recommendations, including the demand for an apology from the US and the cessation of drone attacks that are counterproductive for Pakistans effort in the war on terror. However, the USA not only refused to stop the strikes, but also increased their frequency on Pakistani soil.
To make matters worse, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta threatened Pakistan of dire consequences that led to countrywide protests against the US. More so, the superpower failed to rein in New Delhi and the puppet regime in Kabul, who are operating several insurgent camps in Afghanistan that are fuelling militancy in Pakistan. It also wants to assign a disproportionate role to India when it leaves Afghanistan in 2014 - a proposition that was not only against Pakistans national interest, but also rejected by its civil and military leadership.
Further, the Americans in their penchant for unilateralism failed to recognise the impact of statements issued by their leaders like Secretary of State and Defence Secretary while visiting India. Similarly, some Congressmen floated fancy ideas that not only hurt the sensibilities of Pakistanis, but were also not helpful in improving the strategic relationship between the two countries. They failed to recognise that their policy of initiating punitive economic and military decisions was effective in the 1950s and 1960s but not today.
Nonetheless, the US administration is still struggling for the reopening of Nato supply routes to Afghanistan. However, Pakistani government has been steadfast in its principal stand of seeking an apology and reimbursement of the Coalition Support Fund, which was due under an international agreement between Islamabad and Washington.
Also, the issue of transit fee could have been resolved amicably if America had initiated some confidence building measures. But it decided to send the US Assistant Defence Secretary, Peter Lavoy, to Pakistan to hold negotiations with the government. But Pakistans Army Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani refused to meet him because, according to the officials, one cannot pretend that it is business as usual when the Americans have taken several unilateral and hostile actions against this country. In the past, General Kayani was considered to be overly generous to the US - a concept that was widely believed by the majority of Pakistanis. While Lavoy succeeded in meeting Pakistans Finance Minister, he failed to make any headway with its military leadership.
It is unfortunate that Washington wants to create a false impression among the Americans that would help President Barack Obama to win another term in office. Their mechanism has failed to recognise the requirements of the Pakistani government and its people, and continues the policy of unilateralism that may have little success at least in this part of the world. This stalemate has continued for a period of time that will hurt not only Pakistan, but also have a long-term impact on the Pak-US relationship. In case efforts are not put in place to rectify the situation, the Americans will soon realise the futility of their policies and the damage they have done to this vital and strategically important region.
The Americans, who are shifting their focus to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, must recognise that for their new policy to succeed, they will have to take Pakistan on board. To achieve this objective, it is not feasible to ignore or damage the interest of Pakistan. The best possible solution to the current state of affairs may well be through backdoor diplomacy, so that a point of no return does not arise. How far the Pakistanis or the Americans will be willing to accommodate each other, the coming days and weeks will tell. One thing that remains certain is that both Pakistan and the US cannot afford to ignore each other, at least not in the present global scenario.
n The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political programme on Pakistan Television.
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