In the garb of friendship
Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
As a coalition partner, Pakistan took some difficult strategic decisions after 9/11 and extended full cooperation to US to combat al-Qaeda and other militants in its tribal areas.
It has deployed over 150,000 troops along Pak-Afghan border to put down the heads of terrorists. Indeed, it was because of Pakistan that US and NATO forces are surviving in Afghanistan. It was because of Pakistani assistance to US and international community that over seven hundred al-Qaeda terrorists were apprehended. Owing to this committed Pakistani support to US and international community that these al-Qaeda and TTP terrorists turned against the state of Pakistan and targeted its security forces, high officials, key communicators, and civil society including innocent women/children, peace loving people busy in their business or prayers in the mosques. Indeed, not US and NATO, but Pakistani security forces broke the backbone of al-Qaeda along Pak-Afghan border.
Unfortunately, US never appreciated these Pakistani sacrifices and always responded negatively. It always tried to let down Pakistan through its discriminatory policies. On May 2, 2011, that US Navy SEALs killed OBL in Abbottabad through a night raid in complete violation of Pakistani sovereignty and integrity besides breaching international law as clearly spelt out in the UN Charter. US did this while Pakistan was one of its coalition partners in its campaign against the terrorism and most allied ally in its entire history. For the Pakistani nation, its security forces and intelligence agencies, this event became extremely painful and unbearable, when its friend deceived it through most mischievous tricks. They felt that, they have been misled, misinformed and betrayed by an ally and its spy agency CIA who not only violated the sovereignty of Pakistan by intruding into its territory without permission but also for creating situation in which Pakistan stood blameworthy and culpable for hiding OBL inside Pakistan. After the incident public opinion went against Pakistan and the country faced domestic turmoil leading to serious political instability. In real term, US act proved that it indeed is a foe in the garb of a friend. Though this was not the first event of violation of Pakistani sovereignty by US forces, yet it encouraged this superpower to later attack Pakistani military posts in Salala, Mohmand Agency on November 26, 2011, killing over two dozen soldiers. Pakistan never expected such like violations by US for which it has done a lot. After Salala attack, Pakistan discontinued logistic supply to US and NATO forces through its soil. This suspension is still continuing.
After a hectic debate and discussions, Pakistani Parliament approved a list of recommendations, giving broad guidelines for a future Pak-US relationship. In the light of these recommendations, Pak-US talks were held on April 27-28 in Islamabad. Owing to US hardliner approach on some issues, the talks ended without making a major headway. However, it is expected that, there would be another round of talks in the near future to resolve the issues for the mutual benefit of both parties. According to Ms Victoria Nuland, spokesperson of US State Department, "There were no agreements reached today. This is the beginning of the reengagement conversation. We are going to have to work through these issues and it's going to take some time."She announced this after the conclusion of two-day Pak-US talks and trilateral meeting, held between representatives of Pakistan, US and Afghanistan. These talks were attended by high level officials from both sides with Marc Grossman heading the US side and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani heading Pakistani side.
The talks focused on three major issues, currently constraining Pak-US relationship; reopening of supplies for ISAF in Afghanistan from Pakistani soil, stoppage of CIA driven drone attacks by US and unconditional apology by United States over the incident of November 26, 2011. While Pakistan wants US Administration to apologize over the Salala incident and guarantee recurrence of any such happenings in future, Obama Administration feels insulted to apologise for this gross violation of Pakistani sovereignty and international norm for the fear of its public scolding in US, especially once he is contesting election for the second term against a strong Republican candidate. This is just an excuse that why a superpower apologise from a third world country, otherwise US public is quite mature and they now the bounds of international law and value of human losses. On its part, Pakistan has made it absolutely clear that, no restoration of supply line for ISAF, if US does not apologise unconditionally. In this regard, President Zardari has told to US team that, "After Pakistan has followed the democratic course for re-engagement with the United States ?, it was now the turn of the US? to help Pakistan in reaching closure on Salala. We have already initiated an inter-agency consultation process and broad parameters have been developed for an agreement on ISAF/NATO supplies through Pakistan."
Regarding CIA driven drone attacks in Pakistani areas, US is showing an inflexible attitude to continue with the practice which clearly indicates that it has intentionally been violating Pakistani sovereignty and integrity.
With such an attitude where US needs Pakistan during the crucial stages of the Afghan invasion, it is dictating Pakistan to accept its terms is really inexcusable. After all Pakistan is also a nation state under the international system and all others should respect its sovereignty in accordance with the international law, the way it respects other's sovereign status.
Hina Rabbani Khar, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, in a recent statement said that US is not listening to Pakistan, once Pakistan asks it for the stoppage of drone attacks.
The statement though is true, but, indicates a helplessness and innocence of Pakistani leadership.
A million dollars question, every Pakistani today ask its Government that if US can apologise to India for a few minutes' custody and interrogation of one of its film actors on US soil, why it declines apologising Pakistan for repeated violation of its sovereignty and killing dozen of its innocent soldiers. Is it the strategic relationship US has with India or huge Indian market US is eyeing to capture, or else.
There are other reasons where US is bound to respect the Indian sovereignty, integrity and its freedom. Certainly, all of them but the most important one is that, India has acted as a nation and refused US dictates in 1949 on the eve of Nehru's visit to Washington. It decided not to side with US, but extracted all military and economic assistance as and when required by it from US and Western Camp, while remaining closer to Communist USSR, with the slogan of neutrality of being non-aligned.
On the other hand, Pakistan accepted the US dictate in very initial days and is continuing with that mainly under personnel agendas, one after the other, with the sole excuse of its security concerns in the region.
US, however, could not stop its disintegration in 1971, but continued its exploitation for its wider international gains, the practice still continues on Pakistan's neighbourhood. How long should Pakistani people lease their independence, sovereignty and integrity to US? Would there ever be an end to this practice and individual decisions, interpreted into Pakistan's national interests? For the first time, Pakistani Parliament has passed broad guidelines for reorientation of its relationship with US, based on the principle of national pride and safeguarding of its sovereignty.
It is therefore essential to interpret those correctly in line with national emotions and execute them in the best national interest of Pakistan's future generation. If US does not agree to justified Pakistani proposals in re-orienting this relationship, Pakistan should not be worried at all, as US needs Pakistan, at this critical juncture.
The maximum, this country will be losing; a few million dollars, whose benefit never reached to the people of Pakistan.
It is to the wisdom of Pakistani leadership to understand US tactics of pressurizing and getting its demand approved by hook or crook. This is very crucial time for the decision makers. This is the war of nerve between Pakistan and US, who so ever will have strong nerves, will win the war. Under no circumstances, should Pakistani leadership lower its bid. Conceding to US demands and its obduracy would mean yoking its future generation for ever. Pakistan cannot afford repeat of Abbottabad episode, Salala incident or having CIA agents like Raymond Davis on its soil to carry this unique and discriminatory friendship of unequal footings. Indeed, Pakistan had enough in the garb of friendship and as a coalition partner of US. It is now US turn to do more, in order to come up to the expectations of Pakistani people.