Pak, US strategic dialogue postponed ‘indefinitely’

Published: July 1, 2011
‘Trust-deficit is widening as US prepares for the Afghanistan endgame’.

‘Trust-deficit is widening as US prepares for the Afghanistan endgame’.


The strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the United States is said to be postponed indefinitely, in the latest sign of worsening ties between the key war-on-terror allies.

Talks are reported to be delayed after the US refused to go ahead with the process until ongoing differences between the two countries are resolved, official sources told The Express Tribune.

Tensions between Islamabad and Washington have been rising since May 2 when a US midnight raid in Abbottabad killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

During her trip to Pakistan after the Osama raid, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton indicated that the two countries would soon resume the strategic dialogue, but so far the two sides have failed to fix dates for the talks due to differences on certain issues.

“There is no chance of strategic dialogue taking place any time soon,” said a security official familiar with the on-ground situation.

“The reason is obvious, there are more pressing issues that the two countries are trying to overcome at this stage,” said   the official, who requested not to be identified.

A Pakistani diplomat, posted in Washington, also confirmed that the US was showing little interest in resuming the strategic dialogue at this stage. “It is not possible in the present situation,” the diplomat added.

The US Embassy in Islamabad has no updates either on the status of the strategic dialogue.

The dialogue, which covers a wide-range of issues from Pakistan’s energy needs to health and education sector woes, was initiated by the Obama administration as part of its effort to ally fears that the US might repeat the mistake of the 1980s when it left Islamabad ‘high and dry’ after driving out  Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

It was also meant to remove the widely held perception that relations between the two countries were confined only to security matters.

The last round of the strategic dialogue was held in October 2010 in Washington. The dialogue was supposed to take place in March this year, but was delayed because of the controversy over the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA contractor in January.

The two sides, however, agreed to resume the process in May after the contractor, Raymond Davis, was freed in a deal with the heirs of the victims.

But the talks could not go ahead as planned due to the Bin Laden raid and have now been delayed indefinitely.

The latest development is the clearest indication as yet that the relations between Pakistan and the US have hit a new low.

Official sources say the trust-deficit between the two countries is widening as the US prepares for the end game in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar confirmed that Pakistan was pushing the US to abandon the Shamsi airbase, which the Central Intelligence Agency has reportedly been using for years to undertake its drone attacks inside the country’s tribal belt.

On its part, the US is learnt to have threatened to cut of military aid to Pakistan and even withheld the latest tranche of a $500 million payment which is part of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF).

Officials insist that the US is exerting pressure after Pakistan’s security establishment launched a crackdown against the CIA network in the country as part of the cleansing process to reduce the CIA footprint but at the same time appears reluctant to go after the Haqqani network allegedly based in North Waziristan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (37)

  • Narao
    Jul 1, 2011 - 8:25AM

    The US has refused to vacate the SHAMSI AIRBASE….where are the Americans values,beliefs and ideas?
    The Most ever rogue state has eroded the world’s security.Recommend

  • Incredible
    Jul 1, 2011 - 8:30AM

    A welcome sign for the terrorists. They can now roam freely in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Maria
    Jul 1, 2011 - 8:56AM

    Pakistan should learn to take care of its own interests as all nations do. Look at all the misery the world dumped on Pakistan for its key role in ousting the Soviets from Afghanistan and ending the Cold War. Instead of a thanks and helping Pakistan, they abandoned Pakistan with the same militants they armed to fight the Soviets. After the West leaves Afghanistan, Pakistan alone will be left to pick up the pieces. They need to think now about the scenario Pakistan will be facing. If the interests of the US and the West coincide with Pakistan’s interests, we should co operate fully but not in matters which are against the nation’s overall interests because India is waiting to destabilize Pakistan.Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Jul 1, 2011 - 9:10AM

    Its a repeat of the scenario between US and Pakistan after the exit of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan in 1988-9. Our relationship has always been transactional and not strategic. It never materialized to the strategic level despite platitudes to that effect. As the relationship now unravels Pakistan will remain under threat both militarily and financially. US withholding past due payments is an old trick and Pakistan should prepare for all eventualities. But unlike 1989 US is in a different league and would not want to become embroiled in further conflict if Pakistan were to stand its ground on principles. Recommend

  • vasan
    Jul 1, 2011 - 10:10AM

    Things delayed are things deniedRecommend

  • sam
    Jul 1, 2011 - 10:30AM

    for once i would like to see this govt take a stand.. and thing about the people of pakistan before they think about filling in their pockets.. STOP giving in to US demands.. take control of the situation yourself..Recommend

  • Sarah Mian
    Jul 1, 2011 - 10:54AM

    Wake up Pakistan – Give democracy a chance, let the government make the decisions on policy and not the MILITARY. Having an alliance with USA will give Pakistan nothing but further dependency. WAKE UP.Recommend

  • Romm
    Jul 1, 2011 - 10:57AM

    Don’t u have any other work to do?????? Always found in Pakistani News website. Its typical of dirty indian Mentality.
    Its justice delayed, justice denied and we won’t let this thing happen in case of Indians. We shall behave in line with the CJP’s policy of deliverance of quick justice through summary trials.Recommend

  • ali
    Jul 1, 2011 - 11:14AM

    Pakistan must review its policy of aiding the Haqqani net work hiding in North Waziristan.
    It’s living in fool’s paradise if we assume that Talibinisation in Afghanistan or in tribal region shall not affect the social fiber of society in the main land.
    Security establishment should announce to cut its ties to militants – Taliban militants so far have killed more than 3500 civilians in Pakistan and deserve no sympathy from our security establishment.
    Rhetoric emanating from US administration – must also stop. Pakistan must fight this war at its own and stop begging the international community. Key to success in the community of Nations rests in self reliance.Recommend

  • wasim ahmed
    Jul 1, 2011 - 11:35AM

    The tensions between the two states should ease out as soon as possible otherwise the Taliban’s are just going to take advantage of the situation. Both countries have been fighting this war for a long time and they both need each other.Recommend

  • Amna Sahir Lodhi
    Jul 1, 2011 - 12:04PM

    It is imperative that diaolog is carried out between the two allies in war against terrorism. I believe this dialog is crucial for the war against terrorism and bloodshed in Pakistan by the militants.Recommend

  • Yasser
    Jul 1, 2011 - 12:38PM

    There was not a single suicide attack or any sort of terrorists’ attacks before 9/11. The so called American “War on Terror” has ruined Pakistan’s peace and stability. We all believe that Pakistan can prosper as soon as US (and their allies i.e. NATO and TTP) vacate this region.
    US has always being rouge and vagabond to thier friends and later talk why people hate America.Recommend

  • Amer
    Jul 1, 2011 - 12:57PM

    There is no need to hit the panic button on the Pakistan side. These strategic talks are nothing more then demands of “do more” and “do this do that”. It might be a good thing at the end and would prove that Pakistan should always look out for it’s own interests. The situation is the same as it was in 1989. The US is leaving the region and now Pakistan is left to clean up the mess. Why is the US asking Pakistan to go after the same people that it says it’s talking with on the other side of the border?
    As far as the energy needs etc are concerned, has anyone seen anything from the US side in the last 10 years? Then why do we need a strategic dialogue for it now? As far as the $500 million payment which is part of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) is concerned, this not any “Aid” that the US is giving to Pakistan. They use Pakistan land for their supply line and we have sacrificed more for them then anyone else. Recommend

  • MAK Lodhi
    Jul 1, 2011 - 1:14PM

    Americans will dictate their terms of engagement, come what may. Pakistan is left with little leeway. If it cuts off its ties, it will have to face the flak and will be a bigger loser. It’s Pakistan’s establishment which is making matters worse. The political government seems to have no choice and no role at all.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Jul 1, 2011 - 1:19PM

    @Billoo Bhaya:
    Fake principles and misplaced honour can never feed an empty stomach. Bhutto had said “we will acquire Nuclear Weapons even if we have to eat grass”. I have nothing against that statement but would like to say that the ones having to eat grass are not those well healed libertians who took the decision but the wretchedly poor. Is there anyone who is willin to speak up for their needs, wants and interests ? Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jul 1, 2011 - 1:41PM

    US left Pakistan alone after the Russian forces went back from Afghanistan.

    To come close with Pakistan, US has assured time and again that US won’t let down Pakistan again.

    On May 02, 2011, US left Pakistan alone and killed OBL in Abbottabad. Now US is leaving Afghanistan and leaving Pakistan alone to fight war or terror with the militants once again.

    Again US is directly negotiating with the militants and have left Pakistan alone in negotiations.

    All above-mentioned are the qualities of US, which says it is a trusted partner of Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan must understand that US was never a friend of Pakistan and never remain a friend of Pakistan in the times to come.

    Wake up Pakistan, enough is enough. Leave US alone and think how to prosper without the financial aid of US. Recommend

  • Jul 1, 2011 - 1:44PM

    Correction: the demand is closer to “do something

    You guys do know that when aid gets yanked it’s going to screw with you more than you believe, right? I’m not even talking in a political sense. When you guys say it doesn’t help the common man, you leave out an important aspect. If your government does not get the aid, they are still going to be looking for a source to compensate for the loss. That source will be the citizens. It will probably hurt other things but, you guys would probably be at least one path to be considered by them.Recommend

  • Aftab
    Jul 1, 2011 - 2:55PM

    I think US doesn’t need the mistress (Pakistan) now. Well done Pakistan, you have please your masters well.Recommend

  • vasan
    Jul 1, 2011 - 3:13PM

    Romm : If dirty mentality is precondition for browsing Pak web sites, then I guess they are garbage in your opinion. Then get off from this.
    Pl dont talk about deliverance of justice, that never exists in Pakistan and that is why I wrote “Things delayed…”. If you dont agree with this conclusion, solve Liaquat alikhan murder, BB murder, Zia plane accident, Mumbai attacks, Srilankan attackers etc and pl dont rush to UN for investigations. Do it yourself and then boast about justice deliverance.Recommend

  • R S
    Jul 1, 2011 - 3:16PM

    Pakistan today needs stroger foreign policy. The flip flop foreign policy for 60 years is not working. The foreign policy till date was and is based on hatred against India. If India says East then Pakistan will say West… Should create a strongest foreign policy and stick to it no matter how many governments, armys come and go.Recommend

  • Bharati Vyawahare
    Jul 1, 2011 - 4:21PM

    One can reply, instead of thanking US for their billion dollars of aid and military equipment support, you hate them. Without knowing consequences Pakistan jumped in and facilitated US to harass Soviets in Afghanistan. It was your leadership’s mistake not to have the exit plan. Then Soviet head Gorbachev recognized the internal situation and started Glasnost and Perestroika. Soviet was collapsed because of its internal economic burden and so was the cold war. Naïve to claim, you end the cold war.

    If you think USA betrayed you in 1989, why Pakistani leadership did the same mistake again in 2001, facilitating Afghan war this time. Ask these questions to your leadership.
    History shows that Pakistani leadership never took any decisions own its own. It is always need an external country to act/support on your behalf.

    De-stabilisation of Pakistan is already get planned by USA and not India. India never bothered about Pakistan except cross border state support militancy. It is you who chants continuously about Indian Kashmir. It is you who provoked all wars. History books in council libraries will make you understand.

    If you accuse India for sponsoring terrorism in Balochistan, take all you evidences to US, EU, China and UN and make your case there.

    For the people of Pakistan, here is the must watch BBC Channel 4 programme, Dispatches, aired on 30 June 2009. This is regarding Mumbai Terror Attack.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jul 1, 2011 - 4:57PM

    Pretty simple — the USA has finally decided that Pakistan is part of the problem and not part of the solution. Doesn’t make sense to do strategic planning with someone you think is helping the bad guys.Recommend

  • sundar
    Jul 1, 2011 - 5:57PM

    Running with the hare and hunting with the hounds will not last forever.Recommend

  • David
    Jul 1, 2011 - 9:44PM

    we should kick out all invaders from that region, and only then there could be peace and stability in Pakistan and in the whole region. Wherever we see Nato and US forces invading, that region is destroyed. we need them out!!!Recommend

  • Babloo
    Jul 2, 2011 - 12:55AM

    100 lashes or 100 onions ?

    To understand the reasons of the stretegic failure of the stretegic dialogue, consider this story.
    A person is offered the choice of punishment . 100 lashes or eat 100 raw Onions.
    He decides to eat onions. After eating 4 onions, he cannot take it any more, so decides for 100 lashes.
    After 5 lashes, he changes mind again and goes for eating onions only to change his mind again after eating 6 more onions . He keeps changing sides and ends up eating 100 onions and taking 100 lashes.
    That is a nutshell is the ‘stretegic depth’ policy of the establishment.Recommend

  • Babloo
    Jul 2, 2011 - 1:05AM

    What is this non-sensical talk of abaondonement of Pakistan by USA ?
    Every relationship is based on merits and mutual benefits.
    Have you heard of any soverign country or person talking abount abondonement ?
    Only widows, mistresses, orphans and whores talk about being abondoned.Recommend

  • Babloo
    Jul 2, 2011 - 1:51AM

    If you want to understand the policy of the establishment, please put the following phrases in a sentence , in any order or format, and you will get the answer

    a. Stretegic depth
    b. Existential threat
    c. doctrine of necessity
    d. jagular vein
    e. supreme national interest
    f. ghairat
    g. India

    Here is an example

    The ‘existential threat’, caused by loss of control of ‘jagular vein’ to ‘India’ , is an affront to our ‘ghairat’ leading to a policy of ‘stretegic depth’ under the ‘doctrine of necessity’, in ‘supreme national interest’.

    You may try your own combination.Recommend

  • dude
    Jul 2, 2011 - 4:27PM

    @Romm – All of you Pakistanis should request tribune to restrict the website to Pakistan only so you have no problem of commenting from India. I think you can do it. If its not easy Imran khan can help you.Recommend

  • Ba Ha
    Jul 2, 2011 - 9:40PM

    @dude: BUT
    Tribune is NYT “in sheep’s clothing”, so how now brown cow? Besides its the only one that can write readable understandable English. The others are pathetic and won’t even admit it. I suggest you sue them for all they are worth and don’t smoke cigarettes Recommend

  • Mahmood Saeed
    Jul 2, 2011 - 11:52PM

    @Bharati Vyawahare:
    Your statement that “De-stabilisation of Pakistan is already get planned by USA and not India. India never bothered about Pakistan except cross border state support militancy” is a joke
    India stopped exisiting after 1947. It was partiitoned and distributed. You call yourself Bharat inside the country but for the world you call yourself India.HYPOCRITS
    Bharat did not pay Pakistan’s share of money in 1947.
    Bharat did not give Pakistan’s share of Military and Railway stores in 1947.
    Bharat suddenly stopped water in the canals which originated from Hadworks there in 1948 and ruined all the crops that year
    The list can go on and on

    Is their a single neighbour, except your client state(s), with whom Bharat has good relations and yet Bharat reaches out to neighbours’ neighbour?
    Isn’t it Bharat’s duplicity to keep accusing Oakistan of terrorism so as to wash away the stains of its own terrorism in Sri Lanka, Maldive, and several Indian states.?

    Yes, Bharat is a big, rich and powerful country. Yes, Bharat is a world economic power. And good luck and more prosperity to you. How would all these signs of progress hide the abject poverty of more than 70% Bharatis? And how will Bharat’s political and economic muscle it has not learnt to live in peace with any of its neighbours? Just think, 64 years on and Bharat has not solved a single major problem with any of its neighbours or any of its own troubled states.

    Time is not with Bharat, USAmerica may be. Listen to the ticking of the ever growing gender disparity that Bhart’s social mores are responsible for and the social upheaval that it will unfurl

    Get off the horse of false pride and unhelpful arrogance. It will be good for Bharat and it will be good for the world.Recommend

  • Mahmood Saeed
    Jul 3, 2011 - 12:04AM


    Here is the phrase you want:

    Bharat which is endowed with much strategic depth in every sense especially concerning China and is bay ghairat too despite the drumming it got from the Chinese in 1962. Bharat considers Pakistan as its existential threat and therefor as a doctrine of state necessity its assumed supreme national interest is to do every thing that would strangle Pakistan’ jugular vein

    Hope that gives you joy.Recommend

  • Hammer
    Jul 3, 2011 - 1:00AM

    Pakistan would be better off in the long run if it cuts off dependence on the US and NATO. Pakistan should nomalize and improve relations with its close neighbours and setup economics trade which should make Pakistan less dependebale on the Amerricans and Europeans, Though it may be a difficult task initially but I am sure that stability in region would be benificial to all , Pakistan has to cut the ambecial cord for it own good. The politicians, The Armed forces and the Awam All have to work for PAKISTAN FIRST concept. There is no reason that Pakistan cannot do this, we just have to try harder.Recommend

  • Mahmood Saeed
    Jul 3, 2011 - 1:09AM

    Bharati Vyawahare and Babloo:

    And the following from today’s NY Times for your enhanced pleasure and pride

    Indians, resident and diasporic — cannot be boarded the way other humans are.
    No: We will not make a line, no matter how the overwhelmed airline staff plead. No: We will not board according to service class or row number; we will push in as early as we can. No: We will not obey the instruction to bring just one piece of carry-on luggage; we will often pretend not to hear, then perform a Tony-worthy pantomime of surprise if confronted

    If you make it on board, and soar above the Hindu Kush, and fall at last into India, you will learn that the nation is in the midst of a fit of rage over corruption these days. Hunger strikes are being called; the heads of some scapegoats in power are rolling; protests are swelling here and there.

    But India is also a place where that abundant kindness fails, far too often, to extend into the anonymous civic sphere, to those beyond one’s little community and beyond one’s sight. In India, to be someone’s house guest or son-in-law or teacher can be delightful. To be a stranger beside the same person at the cinema or bank or airport is another experience altogether. Recommend

  • Analyst
    Jul 3, 2011 - 1:40AM

    Good try but poor results. The phrases

    a. Stretegic depth
    b. Existential threat
    c. doctrine of necessity
    d. jagular vein
    e. supreme national interest
    f. ghairat
    h. strategic assets

    are unique product of pakistan, which a unique nation, like no other on earth. Comparing Pak and Indian political systems and constitution is like comparing chalk and cheese, Recommend

  • Tariq
    Jul 3, 2011 - 6:56AM

    Seems to me that Pakistanis hate the US. Imran Khan come here to get money, than goes back and talks against our country, so why do you Pakistanis want to come to the US and accept our money.

    Just go your own way, we atleast want to quit giving you money as we have our own issuesRecommend

  • Tariq
    Jul 3, 2011 - 6:56AM

    No really comparing night and day, Pakistan being the night
    Seems to me that Pakistanis hate the US. Imran Khan come here to get money, than goes back and talks against our country, so why do you Pakistanis want to come to the US and accept our money.

    Just go your own way, we atleast want to quit giving you money as we have our own issuesRecommend

  • Waqas Sarwar
    Jul 4, 2011 - 1:07AM

    Since the retreat of Soviet Union Pakistan has served as a geo-political hub for US covert military operations. As US military operations inside Pakistan and in the region are designed and executed to safeguard US interests only, so the circumstances we are facing now were the unavoidable outcome of becoming non-nato ally foreseen by many but we Pakistanis closed our eyes on this side of the mirror as we are habitual to. We have ourselves let them in and now they are unwilling to let us go free. Pakistan is a state controlled by military and paramilitary forces whether they are in the government or not. It was their decision imposed by Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf on the people of Pakistan without taking their will in to account. No resolution of any form was passed by the parliament of any constitutional institution to hand over bases to the Americans but actually they were. This was a decision imposed on us and we were forced in to this situation by the military establishment. Our parliament has passed a resolution on restricting CIAA intervention in our country and denial of supply route but its implementation has been made out of question. War and terror will automatically be out of the eyes of American media as soon as US troops get out of Afghanistan. We will then be left with nothing. Our nuclear assets were being targeted in the past and will be in the future.
    The best solution is to let democracy flourish and reduction of military intervention in state policy making. We will have to withdraw from the war of terrorism and start to solve matter on table as US is doing to prepare for its pack up in the next three or four years. Recommend

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