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جمعہ، 3 جون، 2011

Redefine relations with the US

Hillary Clinton has ofteh been candid in acknowledging Pakistan`s role in the war on terror, but she should understand that the things could "turn" for the better only when America moved forward on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest, not in the mould of master-slave relationship.

By Mohammad Jamil

Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to Pakistan on an unannounced visit arguably to ease festering tensions. She expressed commitment to bilateral relations, and gave the soothing effect by stating “there was no evidence that top Pakistani officials had any knowledge of the al-Qaeda leader’s whereabouts”. She met with political and military leaderships and attended a news conference with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen where she described the relationship with Pakistan as having reached a “turning point”. Hillary Clinton has often been candid in acknowledging Pakistan’s role in the war on terror, but she should understand that the things could ‘turn’ for the better only when America moved forward on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest, not in the mould of master-slave relationship. If the US has certain expectations from Pakistan, so has Pakistan from the US; and it too wants its interests to be taken care of and its concerns addressed. It can’t be that Washington has only to dictate and Islamabad has only to obey. America has indeed been giving economic and military aid, but Pakistan also served American interests sometimes to the detriment of national interests.Hillary Clinton also said that anti-Americanism in Pakistan and conspiracy theories would not pay. She must know that this public sentiment is against the American government and not the American people, because a great majority of Americans do not like war and wish to live in peace. Fact of the matter is that the feeling is deeply-ingrained in the people’s minds for persistent betrayals by the US, at times in their crucial moments e.g., Pakistan was betrayed in 1965 and 1971’s wars with India. After Soviet forces were deployed in Afghanistan in 1979, Pakistan became the frontline state, and they were forced to withdraw from Afghanistan in late 1980s. Once again, the country was ditched conveniently and remorselessly by America. It has to be mentioned that the militants and terrorists the US and Pakistan are fighting today are yesteryears jihadis who were motivated to join jihad and funded by the US, the West and the Arab world. Anyhow, Pakistan and America are allies in war on terror, and Pakistan seems to have weaned off the strategic depth syndrome. Its desire to have a friendly and not hostile government is a natural like every country would desire.There have been ups and downs in relations between the US and Pakistan, but since the Raymond Davis episode, relations became strained. However, after the unilateral action by American Special Forces in Abbottabad showing utter disregard to Pakistan’s sovereignty, the relations between Pakistan and the United States are at the lowest ebb. Reports abound that the ISI has been sharing information with the CIA that led to the arrest of scores of al-Qaeda leaders and operatives. And the CIA could unearth Osama bin Laden on the information about a cell-phone call emanating from the compound. Yet, the CIA blamed Pakistan for hiding information about Osama bin Laden. With the existing level of distrust, America’s insistence on doing more, and balking at Pakistan’s concerns, Pakistan should redefine relations with America and tell frankly what can be done and what can’t be done. American leadership should not blame Pakistan for its flawed policy of shock and awe and not putting enough boots on the ground when the US attacked Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban. The result was that Osama bin Laden and other leaders first moved to Kunar to FATA to settled areas in Pakistan. It was indeed the responsibility of the US and its allies to stop them and arrest them on their side of the Pak-Afghan border. It should also be borne in mind that 9/11 was a monumental intelligence failure, and so was the Mumbai intelligence on 26th November 2008. Osama bin Laden was not an ordinary man; he had challenged the super power. His decision to reside at Abbottabad could be result of his fertile mind, as a residence close to Pakistan Military Academy was indeed a safe place in the sense nobody could even imagine that the most wanted man was staying there. Though Pakistan has been America’s ally in war on terror, American and western media have been insinuating its military and the premier agency for ensconcing al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, which is travesty of the truth. The fact remains, Pakistan has suffered from terrorists of al-Qaeda and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Taliban that have killed more than 3,500 personnel of law enforcing agencies, and many more have become invalid. At least 35,000 people have been killed because of suicide and bomb attacks. Can anyone with average common sense believe that Pakistan army and ISI help the terrorists just to get killed by them?A lot of confusion has been created by the statements from members of the Obama administration, giving rise to suspicions and trust-deficit. American media, especially print media had been carrying reports regarding American plans to take control of Pakistan nukes, should the government fail or terrorists take over Islamabad. Members of Bush administration, think tanks and analysts have been trying to raise fears in the minds of international community that militants might capture power in Pakistan, and thus take control of Pakistan’s nukes. Pakistan considers such conjectures as utterly absurd. If America does not know the venue of nukes stocks and delivery system, how terrorists or militants could reach the nukes that are protected under multi-layered system. American leadership has also been casting aspersions on Pakistani military and the ISI, which ultimately would go against the interest of the United States. After 2nd May’s unilateral action, President Obama said if there was information about high-value target of al-Qaeda, the US would resort to similar action. If Pakistan is pushed against the wall, and it reacts, both Pakistan and the US are likely to suffer.Last year, Admiral Mike Mullen had said: “Pakistan must be sensitive to the US security interests”. What Pakistani leadership had been doing since the US invasion of Afghanistan, if not this, even to the detriment of its own national interests? In fact, since 1950s, Pakistan has been looking after American interests by joining pacts with the West and bilateral agreement with the US? When US spy plane U-2 took off from American base at Badhber near Peshawar and was shot down by Soviet Union, whose interest Pakistan served? Of course, Pakistan was dismembered in the process, as former Soviet Union had fully backed India in her designs to disintegrate Pakistan. But Pakistan once again became the frontline state after Soviet forces entered Afghanistan in late 1970s just to serve American interest. It is Pakistan that is making all the sacrifices yet receiving all the blame and punishment for their failures. At least for once, the United States should be honest, confess their blunders and failures in Afghanistan and acknowledge Pakistan’s tremendous sacrifices.
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