KARACHI: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a visit to India made some threatening statements against Pakistan. The US should realise that Ms Clinton’s threatening tone is winning it no public support in Pakistan. If the US is tired of Pakistan’s unwillingness to comply with its demands, it should realise that Pakistanis are also tired of managing the consequences of the US military presence in Afghanistan. Ms Clinton’s tough line against Pakistan suggests that the US has decided to deal with Pakistan as it does with Iran — through diplomatic pressure, threats, followed by sanctions.
What does the US expect Pakistan to do? The government of Pakistan may be willing to allow the commencement of Nato supplies but the people of Pakistan are not. The US is concerned about the Nato containers piling up in Karachi but is it concerned with all the piled up miseries of people of this country?
What message is Ms Clinton giving to the people of Pakistan when she says that “Pakistan has not yet taken steps to do what India and the US has requested it to do”. Pressuring Pakistan did not work in the past and the acquisition of our nuclear capability is a demonstration of that. The US now seems to be working on an agenda that reads ‘Pakistan’s interests can’t change but we can force it to change its behaviour’.
Unfortunately, this is bad news for the region and its stability. The people of Pakistan believe that the US imposes its will on them and its actions have harmed Pakistan’s interests. The US should realise that Pakistan is not an impediment but could be a valuable partner and active participant in the creation of a stable and secure regional environment. Ms Clinton will do well to resist making public threats because doing so will make the US lose whatever little public support there is in Pakistan for it.
Muhammad Ali Ehsan
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.