New Pak-US rules of engagements required
Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat


There is little doubt that following the Obama versus Osama episode, the relations between Pakistan and the United States have plummeted to a level that is both alarming and undesirable. Why the situation came to this extent where saner elements in both countries are now making efforts to salvage the ties.

The Osama episode was certainly the turning point. But before this, the Raymond Davis issue, the CIA operative who shot dead two Pakistanis on a Lahore road in cold blood in January this year, created extreme tensions between the two agencies, CIA and ISI.

Foreign intelligence operatives cannot kill nationals of the host country in cold blood nor foreign forces can come deep inside a country without informing the host and take unilateral action. No country can allow such unwarranted actions by foreign forces on its soil. The stand by Pakistan in this regard is just and much appreciated.

The situation became worse after the Abbottabad operation when US officials started hurling allegations on Pakistan armed forces, blaming them of complicity or incompetence. Fortunately, both these allegations are totally unfounded and unsubstantiated.

However, the media campaign generated by the mainstream western media created further tensions between the two countries. Consider one example. The day the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani landed in Beijing, reports were carried in the western media that US had also sent drones into the Pakistan airspace much before the Abbottabad operation. Wasn’t this an attempt to further undermine Pakistan and its armed forces at a time when its prime minister was visiting an important friendly country?

At the same time, pressure was put on Pakistan with regard to the financial assistance and military aid provided by the United States. Then came the nuclear issue, which was highlighted though the US and other western countries have admitted that Pakistan’s nuclear assets are safe and there is no safety issue about it. While the ties between the two countries are under severe strain, the road ahead much depends on how Washington plays the game. President Obama’s declarations of taking unilateral action inside Pakistan violating the country’s sovereignty would not help. The same is the case with statements and stories maligning Pakistan and its armed forces.

Simultaneously, it is the job of the Parliament to decide the contours of Pak-US relations following the Abbottabad operation and give a policy to Pakistan armed forces and intelligence agencies. The rules of engagements have to be devised/defined by the country’s parliamentarians so that the ISI and the armed forces could defend the national interests.