Time to cut the umbilical cord?

Published: February 19, 2012

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It does look as if the United States is losing its grip on Pakistan. The old bonhomie that once existed has evaporated. Disenchantment with the Americans started quite a few years ago. It was intensified with the drone attacks which, while they created cul-de-sacs of impotent rage, were apparently carried out with the knowledge and support of the civil and military leadership in Islamabad. The tension just drooped into long aimless scenes of helplessness.

The Raymond Davis episode spawned considerable rancour and acrimony, and demonstrated that a CIA operative in a Third World country could kill at will and get away with it. The outrage spread across Pakistan. Davis’ effigies were burnt; the Pakistani government was mocked and ridiculed for displaying weakness and the president was seen as a beguiling combination of lonely gullibility, cunning ambition and a man who runs with the hares and hunts with the hounds. A day after Davis was released; the CIA conducted one of its most devastating drone attacks, as missiles from a remote-controlled US aircraft rained down on a tribal gathering in North Waziristan, killing 40 civilians. General Kayani regretted the “careless and callous targeting of peaceful citizens with complete disregard of human life”, and instructed his military to shoot down any drones that were spotted.

But Pakistan’s Reality Show which topped the torrent of harsh assaults was the alleged killing of Osama bin Laden,  which blew the lid off the boiling cauldron. The terse and steely granite-jawed military types were livid. How could something like this happen in their garrison town, a short distance from the country’s foremost military academy and under their very noses? Nobody really believed — and this included the Americans — that the Pakistan military was unaware of the identity of the bearded civilian who resided in their midst. The military became an unfortunate hostage of misfortune and the butt of cruel jokes.

Many people in Pakistan believe that bin Laden is still alive and kicking and the whole incident was just a stage to prop up Obama’s falling ratings. Whatever the truth might be, it had an unfortunate impact on Pakistan’s international standing as a partner of the global community in its struggle against international terrorism.

Just when things started to cool off and the downward spiral was halted, there was the truck bombing in Kabul, followed by a concerted and sustained attack on the US embassy. Though a terrorist group claimed responsibility, Admiral Mike Mullen, pointed accusing fingers at Pakistan. The last straw was, of course, the bombing by Nato forces at Salala. This led to Pakistan blocking supply routes to coalition forces in Afghanistan, and to Pakistan’s boycott of the Bonn conference on the future of Afghanistan. There was no apology from the Americans; just an expression of regret and the admission that mistakes had been made by Nato troops. In spite of the lack of trust on both sides which has bedevilled relations between the two countries, the president and the Pakistan military are reluctant to cut the umbilical cord and believe the lines of engagement should be redrawn. There is every indication that they will.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Parvez
    Feb 19, 2012 - 11:46PM

    Excellent over view of the prevailing relations between both countries.


  • Feb 20, 2012 - 12:19AM

    “It does look as if the United States is losing its grip on Pakistan. “

    No, sir. It looks like Pakistan is losing its grip on the U.S. Otherwise U.S. policymakers, far from promoting an independent Baluchistan, would keep the issue quiet, seeking to stay in Pakistan’s good books.


  • M Ali Khan
    Feb 20, 2012 - 12:53AM

    They tried to use Afghanistan as a pressure tactic towards Pakistan, now they will come closer to home with Balochistan as a tactic.


  • yousaf
    Feb 20, 2012 - 5:08AM

    Simpletons as we are we think that we are attached to US with an umbilical-cord,not realising that a foster mother is never attached with her “offspring” by such sacred link rather it is a butcher-goat relationship,through a knife in-between the two for a “connection”


  • Nasir
    Feb 20, 2012 - 6:12AM

    As the game in Afghanistan near to end, US no more needs Pakistan so many such events like Balochistan hearing would come soon. Of course lamb is making the water dirty…


  • vasan
    Feb 20, 2012 - 10:10AM

    When Balochistan is born, the umbilical cord will naturally be cut. Pakistan will be better off by saving the Umbilical cord blood and use it for future.


  • Udaya Bose
    Feb 20, 2012 - 10:44AM

    Is bin Laden dead? He doesn’t know.
    Should the umbilical cord be cut? He expresses no firm view. Will it be cut? He is ambivalent.
    Has Pakistan ever been at fault in the relationship? He doesn’t even countenance the question.
    What a waste of good space for an inane article.


  • Feroz
    Feb 20, 2012 - 10:53AM

    The ideological leanings of every journalist somehow tends to get exposed whatever the camouflage. In the case of Anwer Mooraj the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad has been described as “alleged killing of Bin Laden”. From that point reading the article any further was a wasted exercise. Congrats, welcome to the high table of Conspiracy Theorists who believe problems can be attributed to external factors, not wrong internal choice made.


  • huzaifa
    Feb 20, 2012 - 12:56PM

    Anwar sb,
    An excellent gist of the relations but as per my experience the “umbilical cord” CAN NOT BE CUT. You have already listen the echoing words of irony from Miss Noland ” NO OPTION OF DIVORCE”, The history and our Majboories tell us that this relation has to continue. The minimum deterrence has to be kept with eastern neighbors and when we look right and left, the source of only free dollars is the USA and they have the knack of asking a lot for the dollars. We will continue to have dollars and continue to pay the price.””Taqdeer Ke Qazi Ka Ye Fatwa Hai Azal Se # Hai Jurm-e-Zaeefi Ki Saza Marg-e-Mafajat! “””


  • ahmed
    Feb 20, 2012 - 2:02PM

    Completely useless article and was not expected from ET. We Indians visit here bcoz other newspapers of pakistan are mostly conspiracy theories.. How can you say that “osama might be alive”..ohh !!


  • Hari Karnani
    Feb 20, 2012 - 6:15PM

    The Pakistan president, prime minister, COAS, and ISI chief have never denied that OBL was not living in Abbotabad or was not killed by American Marines. Pakistan state (ISI) have in their custody OBL’s family, so why do you (people of Pakistan) still go on pretending that OBL is alive or he was already killed in Tora Bora. Be honest and truthful to your history and culture.


  • Sajida
    Feb 20, 2012 - 9:20PM

    Balochistan-is clearest link US ants it for attack on Iran. After all where have the Jundalla been based but not in Balochistan? it is another dirty tricks campaign.
    US should stop this since country is fast crumbling at home.

    Andrew Bacevich | Uncle Sam, Global Gangster
    Andrew Bacevich, TomDispatch: “With the United States now well into the second decade of what the Pentagon has styled an ‘era of persistent conflict,’ the war formerly known as the global war on terrorism (unofficial acronym WFKATGWOT) appears increasingly fragmented and diffuse. Without achieving victory, yet unwilling to acknowledge failure, the United States military has withdrawn from Iraq. It is trying to leave Afghanistan, where events seem equally unlikely to yield a happy outcome.”
    Read the Article
    WOT looks to be a hoax…just look at that guy sitting pretty in London…
    Saudi Arabian millionaire ‘with links to 9/11 terror attacks’ living in luxury London home while working for state oil company


  • Shahid
    Feb 20, 2012 - 9:33PM

    It is so naive that Pakistani,s expect apology from united states. Do you guys realise that united states is ten thousand times more stronger than Pakistan using most parameters. Come on, live within your boundries. just like their are protocols for every thing as in Pakistani bureacracy a junior officer can not even send salam to a senior officer. Are we living in a fools paradise. We should be praising united states day and night that it has allowed us to continue breathing and be alive.


  • Cautious
    Feb 21, 2012 - 3:31AM

    the president and the Pakistan military are reluctant to cut the umbilical cord and believe the lines of engagement should be redrawn. There is every indication that they will.

    This is a constant theme in Pakistan that blindly assumes that Pakistan will determine the future of the relations and American’s will bow down an accept whatever terms you offer. I would argue that your leverage on America deceases daily and there will be a time in the not so distant future when you will scratch your head and wonder why the American’s stop returning your phone calls.Recommend

  • You Said It
    Feb 21, 2012 - 6:59AM

    This should have been titled “headlines of 2011”. What a waste of words and time.


  • meekal ahmed
    Feb 21, 2012 - 9:07PM

    I think the chord will not be cut. Maybe a better relationship will emerge after these traumatic events.

    We need to do some thinking on our own and dispel the widely-held notion and belief that we are double-dealing. Even if we are in our own self-interest, that does not go down well at home or abroad.


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