Will US damage-repair moves work?
Mian Saifur Rehman
Like in the world of medicine, the dictum ‘prevention is better than cure’ applies equally well to the world of diplomacy particularly when it pertains to US-Pakistan relations that have tended to oscillate between predicable and unpredictable modes, either by design or by default.
This relationship has many variables with a number of ups and downs but the mathematical constant seems to be the United States’ overall lack of trust in Pakistan despite the latter’s cooperation, at times, without any big preconditions. The fact is that in this partnership, Pakistan has proved to be quite an agreeable companion even at the cost of its image of a sovereign nation, though this ‘willing partner mode’ owes somewhat to the country’s economic dependence for years on outside quarters. Still, this mode can’t be equated with obsequiousness but with reasonableness of diplomacy that Pakistan has been practicing in its relationship with different countries of the world including the dominating countries of the west, led by the sole superpower in this unipolar world namely the United States of America.
This point can be easily understood from the Americans’ ‘do more’ mantra that has never waned or subsided even after Pakistan had lost around 5,000 of its soldiers, 50,000 plus of its non-combatant, innocent civilians and incurred a loss of 100 plus billion dollars in financial terms (against which Coalition Support Fund, that is now expiring, could only compensate us in peanuts). Had Pakistan shown slavishness, the frequency of ‘do more’ demands would have reduced substantially. Some keen US watchers, however, opine that the ‘do more’ mantra is just to keep Pakistan on the run. If this opinion is analyzed deeply, it also leads to almost the same conclusion that there is something irksome in Pakistan’s overall conduct that is disturbing the superpower and for sure, that again is Islamabad’s firm stand on its vital national interests which can’t be compromised for any price, offer, pressure or threat.
The problem, therefore, is in the American lack of trust for which all types of diplomatic preventions are overlooked as was done during the recent drone strike in Noshki inside Balochistan in which TTP’s former head Mulla Akhtar Mansour, was killed. What use the public acknowledgement of Pakistan’s highly successful and efficacious Operation Zarb-e-Azb by Washington authorities? If, in the eyes of Washington or for that matter, Pentagon and CIA, Pakistani forces’ operations against terrorists of all shades (as rightly claimed with proofs by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif) have been more than 90 per cent successful, then what was the justification for going for the latest drone hit when a sovereign state (Pakistan) was fighting the globally-cherished war on terror to its logical conclusion with sincerity of purpose and with a solid commitment for durable world peace?
Certainly, this doesn’t mean that Pakistan had – or has- any intention to protect anti-state militants and terrorists who are out to eliminate humans for their nefarious ‘cause’. Pakistan is rather more than committed to the cause of total eradication of terrorism not only from its territory but also from the entire region. Secondly, Pakistan was already playing an effective mediatory role that enjoyed the backing of US and many other global leaders. At such a juncture, the best course for US was to move forward in a preventive mode instead of its outdated aggressive mode that has not yielded the desired results till the recent past.
Now, what’s the sense in trying to damage the repair by sending high-powered delegations like the ones comprising Richard Olson and Dr Peter Lavoy (other agenda items standing apart)? Hadn’t it been better if the United States had resorted to ‘prevention is better than cure’ diplomacy that too with reference to an ally whose trustworthiness can’t be questioned on any yardstick?
And hadn’t it been deemed to be good diplomacy had Washington considered the case of Pakistan’s entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group on merit since Pakistan fully qualifies for the membership in terms of its best nuclear safeguards (as regards NPT membership issue, why is Indian being given preferential treatment)?