Resolving impasse: US commanders offer ‘new proposals’

Published: March 29, 2012

The meeting between Kayani and the American commanders is the first since NATO airstrikes in November last year. PHOTO: AFP/REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: 

In a second sign in as many days, the frost on Pakistan-US bilateral ties may be melting.

A day after Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani met US President Barack Obama on the margins of a nuclear security summit in Seoul, top American military commanders flew in to meet Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesday.

The meeting between Kayani and the American commanders – Centcom chief General James Mattis and ISAF Commander General John Allen – was the first since Nato airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November last year.

The military chiefs exchanged key proposals to break the months-old impasse in the bilateral relationship which is considered crucial for the Afghan endgame.

Officially, however, nothing much was said about the talks held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

According to a statement issued by the military ahead of the talks, the top commanders from the two sides were to discuss the investigation of the American airstrikes in November and ways to improve border coordination.

The two American generals also separately met Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Khalid Shamim Wynne.

“General James N Mattis and General John Allen remained with Gen Wynne for some time and discussed bilateral matters of professional interests, and the emerging geo-strategic situation of the region,” said a brief Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) statement.

Beyond Salala

Sources, however, revealed that the two sides discussed certain proposals to move beyond the Salala incident.

The US offered a new mechanism to operate drones inside the country’s tribal belt to take out ‘high-value’ targets associated with the al Qaeda and the Taliban, one source said.

The proposed mechanism will limit the number of predator strikes and offer Pakistan ownership to provide it the necessary face-saving in the wake of growing public anger on drones, the source added.

It is not clear, however, if the military leadership shows any inclination to accept such a proposal.

Recommendations prepared by an all-party, bicameral parliamentary panel seek cessation of drone strikes in the tribal areas.

Meanwhile, foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Basit said “there is no question of a compromise on the issue of drone attacks.”

The American generals also discussed the possible reopening of vital supply lines for the US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is believed to have shown its willingness to lift the ban but under certain conditions.

“We are not only seeking to impose additional taxes on Nato goods but also asked the US to pay compensation for the damage caused to our road infrastructure by the Nato containers,” said a military official.

The official dubbed the talks between top commanders as a sign of normalisation of relationship but said no final decision was taken on key issues including Nato supplies and drone attacks.

The visit by top American generals comes amidst a debate in parliament on the new terms of engagement with the US. Opposition parties and rightwing groups have alleged that the parliamentary debate is nothing but eyewash.

The flurry of top-level exchanges, after a long hiatus, appears to suggest that the two sides have already covered a lot of ground, despite claims by the government that the normalisation of ties will take place only after parliament approves the new framework.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2012.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (15)

  • Adeel759
    Mar 29, 2012 - 5:55AM

    What about the Ducks sitting in the Parliament, can they learn how to assert their mandate handed to these Ducks by the people of pakistan.

    Recommend

  • dr shaukat ali
    Mar 29, 2012 - 6:42AM

    Pakistan has an importunity to play its card wisely and patiently. America has misused the Pakistan government weaknesses and trust to improve its world image as superpower at the cost of our national integrity. The is probably the rare and most important occasion to get our lost honor rehabilitated. There shall be visible and effective aid that can improve the masses condition.
    Let America stop direct drone attacks, instead share the intelligence and give the required technology for apprehension of the terrorists. Pakistani people want to have good working relation with USA but not a a beggars.
    USA shall realize that we are short of energy and because of that or national industry and economy is suffering negatively. Civil Nuclear technology is is our justified need. USA shall pay for the damages of civil and military losses during war on terror. No compromise on Pak-Iran gas links.

    Recommend

  • Mar 29, 2012 - 7:43AM

    Keep killing Pakistanis, we will keep complaining.

    Recommend

  • Bilafond
    Mar 29, 2012 - 8:42AM

    My only prayer that the BLOOD OF SALALA SHAHEEDS was not in vain. The US still sticking to its original stance. SO WHAT HAS CHANGED ??? except that we do not have any pride left.

    Recommend

  • Farooq
    Mar 29, 2012 - 9:18AM

    although we have sold our sovereignty to USA, but our political leaders are not willing to inform the nation that we have sold you to US. Now PML(N) is trying to prevent PPP to get closer to US and always hijack the parliament to give a clear decision by parliament.

    Recommend

  • MarkH
    Mar 29, 2012 - 9:59AM

    @dr shaukat ali:
    Most of what you recommend is very unrealistic from seemingly a place of false self-image. It requires a position of power to make such demands, especially one sided ones, or at the very least an effective “or else.” Pakistan possesses neither.

    Recommend

  • Mar 29, 2012 - 10:06AM

    @Bilafond: same goes for the innocent victims of Kharotabad.

    Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Mar 29, 2012 - 10:35AM

    Just like Musharraf said that Akbar Bugti would not know what hit him, Pakistan has no idea where and how this will end.

    Recommend

  • Qasim
    Mar 29, 2012 - 10:52AM

    Speaks a volume about the hollow growls from everyone on our sovereignty, which is/has been for sale throughout Pakistan’s existence; it is just a question of right price. (We are not only seeking to impose additional taxes on Nato goods but also asked the US to pay compensation for the damage caused to our road infrastructure by the Nato containers,” said a military official.)

    Recommend

  • Zaid
    Mar 29, 2012 - 12:12PM

    Another conspiracy attempt against Pakistan by CIA

    Recommend

  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Mar 29, 2012 - 4:15PM

    Take BLOOD MONEY for the dead according to shariya and keep silence . Pakistan has to cooperate in the war against terrorists at any cost , It is also in the interest of country otherwise people like Hafiz Saeed will start to rule the country .

    Recommend

  • Tony C.
    Mar 29, 2012 - 7:02PM

    @dr shaukat ali:
    Dear dr shaukat ali,
    I think you are on the ball in how to deal with America. It is a sellers market and Pakistan has what the U.S. needs. At present the U.S.military is using C130 aircraft to supply various bases in Afghanistan, and quite often carrying out air drops when landing strips are not available. This makes for extremely expensive supplies. For example, fuel costs are now at $400.00 per gallon, and rising. Other factors which should be raised are damage to the infrastructure and the health of Pakistan people.. Every time a NATO truck is destroyed or damaged repairs, of various kinds, to the infrastructure will be required. Depending on the local, and ignoring loss of Pakistan lives, I don’t think it would be unrealistic to render an invoice of $200,000.00. This would cover repairs to roads, buildings and removing the damaged vehicle. Possibly, the health of Pakistanis would be the most important and expensive. When people are killed the U.S. response generally is; awe shucks, that is just collateral damage. They routinely send drones over piloted by some young idiot sitting in a Californian office. The drones destroy houses, buildings, infrastructure and people, and we never really know whether the dead women and children are terrorists are not. I suspect not although this is a cost to the Pakistan taxpayer. Does the U.S. offer realistic compensation for the damage and loss of life. I suspect not. The Americans, particularly in Congress, Washington are always spouting that Pakistan does not deserve their generosity. However, the situation should be the other way around. I suspect the U.S. have been shirking their financial indebtedness for nearly ten years and now is the time to pay the piper. This is the time to confront parsimonious American bean counters, and tell them Pakistan requires that they pay in full. If the U.S. wants to fight wars they have to pay for them. Perhaps this is not the time to discuss, in full, American dirty weapons which are polluting the Pakistan countryside, and damaging peoples health, but it is very real and Pakistan will be paying the health bill for a very long time. Ii is my understanding that radio active pollutants stick around for many millions of years.

    Recommend

  • Dr.A.K,Tewari
    Mar 29, 2012 - 8:18PM

    Carrot Stic policy is an open American policy for the region . Money is not a limiting factor in the war against terrorism .After all it is almost an international resolve .

    Recommend

  • Mar 30, 2012 - 12:53AM

    No one will disagree that our cooperation has yielded many positive outcomes. Together, we have been able to capture or kill numerous high-profile terrorist leaders. Together, we have been able to break the backs of many terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaeda. We hope that the meetings between our leaders will bring about improvement in our relationship, which has endured a few hiccups lately.

    General James Mattis, Commander of U.S. Central Command, and General John Allen, Commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, met and discussed with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and other senior military officials a wide range of common security issues, to include militant network activities and improving cross-border cooperation. General Mattis acknowledged the sacrifices made by the Pakistani military in their fight against violent extremists, and offered his condolences for Pakistani military personnel who have fallen in support of that cause.

    Going forward, we need this cooperation for the sake of the people who are victims of terrorist atrocities. We need to go after the few groups of terrorists who are on their last breath and lashing out. We need to neutralize them, and bring some needed relief to the innocent.

    Maj David Nevers
    DET-United States Central Command
    http://www.centcom.mil/ur

    Recommend

  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Mar 30, 2012 - 6:28AM

    We should salute all those who are fighting against the menace .

    Recommend

More in Pakistan