The latest 2-month old round of tensions in the United States-Pakistan relations may have seen the high tide and the turn. Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar receiving US ambassador Cameron Munter on Tuesday means spring is in the air.
Pakistan is lifting embargo on US special representative Marc Grossman from landing in Islamabad. The US’ patience is paying off. The fracas over the November 26 NATO attack on Pakistan is also petering off — the two sides agreeing to disagree as to what really happened on that fateful day/night.
Actually, the difference has narrowed down to whether the US was entirely at fault or only partly so. No military owns mistakes fully. However, that won’t prevent the US and Pakistan from resuming dealings. We may expect NATO convoys using Pakistani transit routes, intelligence cooperation, sophistry over drone attacks, etc. It’s a matter of sequencing.
The US is under strong compulsion to deal directly with Pakistani military and not through third parties such as the Taliban (or Pervez Musharraf). The US has almost one hundred percent accepted Pakistan’s viewpoint on how to bring the Afghan war to an end.
Washington has contacts directly at high level with the Taliban headed by Mullah Omar, the “good Taliban” living in Kabul, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and even with the Haqqani network. Now, Pakistan had suggested all this many years ago.
The only hitch is whether these contacts are for real — or are surreal
. Only Pakistan can tell. So, it is important that in the quickest possible way, US talks to Pakistan before such irrevocable steps are taken as the release of controversial Taliban leaders from Guantanomo Bay
But the big question is whether the heavy cloud of suspicion — popularly called the ‘trust deficit’ — is going to lift anytime soon. The answer is ‘No’. From Pakistani viewpoint, US’s obscure dealings
with the Pakistani Taliban remain a matter of concern. So indeed the US’s willingness to accommodate Pakistan’s legitimate interests in Afghanistan.
Also, Pakistan needs clarity regarding the US’s intentions. The US military presence on a long-term footing poses dangers for Pakistan’s security. The US’s accent on India’s primacy in the Indian Ocean, etc. is unacceptable, too.
Meanwhile, there is no harm talking with the US during the twilight zone, as the final countdown begins for army chief Ashfaq Kayani’s tumultuous tenure.
Posted in Diplomacy, Military, Politics.
– January 25, 2012