Pak-US tensions: Foreign ministry seeks international support to deter US

Veteran diplomats say strikes in North Waziristan likely, economic sanctions possible.


Qaiser Butt September 27, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


As tempers run high between Pakistan and the US over the Haqqani network, Islamabad has launched an international effort to avert the possibility of foreign forces on its soil.


An official source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Pakistan has directed its envoys in western countries, including Nato allies, to muster support that could dissuade the US from taking action, whether military or economic, against Pakistan.

Additional Secretary of the Foreign Ministry Alamgir Babar is in regular contact with the US State Department in an attempt to alleviate tensions, the source told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.

Armed hostilities unlikely

Veteran diplomats, however, say armed hostilities are unlikely. “The recently initiated cold war against Pakistan is aimed at cowing down Islamabad, but this threatening posture will not translate into a physical confrontation,” former Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand told The Express Tribune. Similar views were expressed by former Pakistan foreign secretary Tanveer Ahmed Khan during a televised interview on Sunday.

On the other hand, both the former diplomats are of the view that Pakistan may face harsh US economic sanctions in case negotiations fail. Both countries are aware that neither can afford an all-out war, Mohmand said, adding that “the problems being faced by Americans in Afghanistan will not allow the US to go beyond a selected strike in Fata.”

Mohmand did not rule out a selected strike, or a short operation by US forces in North Waziristan similar to the Abbottabad raid. “Some adjustment will ultimately occur in the rigid stands and demands of both the countries,” he said.

Where China comes in

Referring to the Chinese role in the Pak-US conflict, the former diplomat said that Islamabad had so far failed to gain help and economic assistance from China.

“Trade between China and India has crossed over $66 billion while we have so far not been able to gain any meaningful support from our friend,” Mohmand said.

The views of former naval chief Admiral Fasihuddin were similar, who said that the war of words was a battle for economic and strategic dominance in the region.

Spill-over possibilities

Fasihuddin did not rule out an army action against Pakistan by the US and warned that “[possible] US strikes in North Waziristan may spill over into urban areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa”.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and military brass have taken a strong stance, stating clearly that a unilateral US strike would not be tolerated. It is yet to be seen whether Islamabad will follow through on this message.

Meanwhile, senior officials in the foreign ministry suggested that a physical confrontation, while not imminent, remained possible in the current circumstances.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th,  2011.

COMMENTS (9)

VIKAS | 10 years ago | Reply China will not come with open support of pakistan in case of war with US, because they are more worried about trade with US and other nations. China can only support Pakistanis in case of Indo Pak war, that too limited support because they dont want to loose business.
Noor | 10 years ago | Reply

@Babar F. A realistic account of expected support from China.

Till when we will keep depending upon outside powers, and close our eyes like a pigeon, when cat frowns?

We're used to collect money here and deposit in the west to enjoy & live our lives over there when not in power in Pakistan. Do we have any moral standing to show ourselves to be representatives of Pakistani people, when we don't invest here, live here, socialize here, just rule here.

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