Millennium Post

US-Pak ties going nudge and wink

There is a continuing irony bordering on the tragicomic in matters of diplomatic ties between the United States and its uncertain ally in South Asia, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Already piqued by the US drone attack that killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the Tehrik-e-Taliban chief, Pakistan is on the edge over the latest revelations that the nation had rejected a proposal from the US president Barack Obama asking it to curb its terrorist elements to reciprocate American intervention in settling the Kashmir quagmire. A new book by the former Pakistani ambassador to US, Husain Haqqani, says that Obama had ‘secretly’ offered Pakistan in 2009 that he would nudge India towards negotiations on Kashmir in lieu of it ending support to extremist outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Taliban, but, Islamabad, to the president’s utter disappointment, had rejected the offer. Taken together, these two developments point towards the recent ups and downs in the US-Pakistan relations, with both unable to arrive at a thorough understanding of what the alliance entails, especially in the wake of international terrorism emanating from Pakistani hinterlands. The fact remains that the US-Pakistan axis has undergone a drastic change in the post-9/11 scenario, with the US significantly escalating its military presence in the Af-Pak region in order to fight a misguided battle. While structural racism against Pakistanis has sky-rocketed, the US has resorted to questionable means such as unmanned drone strikes to combat the guerilla terrorists inhabiting the North West Frontier Province, among other regions in the South Asian country. While the US has sought ‘cooperation’ in defeating the Al-Qaeda, Tehrik-e-Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba among other militant groups wreaking havoc across the world, its strategy towards Pakistan has remained at a befuddled and directionless level at best.

Of course, economic and security concerns have topped the agenda in US-Pakistan ties, but given the mutual courting of India and America in the last decade, particularly in the context of the Indo-US nuclear ties, the former relationship has been left undefined, a veritable question mark in the corridors of foreign policy. America has persisted in defending its drone policy, while Pakistan has continued to provide succor to dreaded terrorists. It’s ironical that both Osama Bin Laden and Hakimullah Mehsud lived not far from Pakistani military cantonments, that too in elaborate mansion houses which can never escape the state’s ever watch eyes. That they had state benefaction is more than evident, but what is uncertain is how the relation is going to shape up in the coming days and months. Moreover, with Pakistan’s growing bonhomie with the other superpower, China, the US is clearly at crossroads, unable to read Pakistan’s moves very clearly. With the sharp cut in security-related assistance, the US is probably trying to drive home a point that Pakistan is either too blind to see or too arrogant to acknowledge. Nevertheless, it is true that US and Pakistan are co-dependents, given the latter’s reliance on the former for aid-related requirements, and the former’s geostrategic need of the South Asian country to maintain its military hold. However, in the light of reports that US aid to Pakistan has come down to a $1.157 billion, the lowest in years, can the inexorable downward trend be missed?
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