Strained relations

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thanked the Pakistan government for its cooperation in the release of CIA operative Raymond Davis. The Davis episode had further strained the relations between the US and Pakistan. Ms Clinton admitted in an interview that the US had “a very difficult relationship” with Pakistan “because there have been some problems”. She was obviously referring to the war in Afghanistan where the US-led NATO troops are fighting the Taliban. Pakistan, despite being a frontline ally of the US in the war on terror, is known for supporting the Afghan Taliban. This has ruffled the feathers of our western allies who want Pakistan to end this double game. In our quest for ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan, we continue to outwit our own allies by our contradictory posture on the Afghan Taliban.

On the other hand, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman has expressed regret over the death of civilians after a drone strike in North Waziristan this month. It was for the first time that Pakistan’s army chief, General Kayani, publicly condemned the drone attack, calling it “unjustified and intolerable”. While there may have been some civilian casualties, the way every drone strike is made into an issue of ‘sovereignty’ is a bit bizarre. Drone strikes are fairly accurate and are carried out after Pakistani intelligence agencies point out a militant target. So this claim that every drone strike leads to civilian deaths does not stand up to scrutiny. The reason for our recent rage, especially the military’s, in the case of this month’s North Waziristan strike could be that this time around, the US used its own intelligence to carry out the attack. It is quite possible that members of the Haqqani network were targeted and subsequently killed. Since Pakistan’s military is providing a safe haven to the Haqqanis, the reason for our ‘outrage’ is clear. US drone strikes in Afghanistan have been criticised by President Karzai who says that every time an innocent is killed, the resentment against foreign occupation increases.

Mr Grossman also said that the purpose of US’s relationship with Pakistan is to “make Pakistanis more secure and to make Pakistanis more prosperous”. Well, it is good to see that the US has finally remembered the Pakistani nation. In the past, the US has only been concerned with supporting military dictators in our country. After Mr Obama came to power, things changed to a certain extent but even now the US government is reluctant to give aid money directly to our civilian government and has not been able to find reliable NGOs either to disburse the money under the Kerry-Lugar Act. In the light of the tensions that arose over Davis and drone attacks, perhaps that is a programme that needs to be speeded up so development takes place in Pakistan and our people get some relief.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


Sulehri said…
Ive written a couple of articles, can I get em published in dailytimes?
hit me back at bilal [at] sulehri [dot] com

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