Afghan endgame: Lack of realism sabotaging Pak-US relations

Speakers question who dictates Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Our Correspondent May 26, 2012


Speakers blamed Pakistan’s ill-designed foreign policy and lack of realism concerning the Afghan endgame for deteriorating Pak-US relations at a discussion here on Thursday.

Former ambassadors and ex-military men were speaking at the policy debate organised by Jinnah Institute and moderated by The News Editor Muhammad Malick. All three panellists were unanimous in their view that it was not clear at the moment who dictates the foreign policy. According to them, as the military repositions its stance, political forces seem reluctant to take the lead.

The speakers asserted that the relationship between Pakistan and the United States must be salvaged. Pakistan must safeguard its own interests when reconfiguring bilateral ties with the US since it stands to lose leverage in the Afghan endgame. Pak-US relations took a nosedive after Salala checkpost attack last year.

Former foreign secretary and ambassador to the United States Riaz Khokhar said, “An apology [from the US] at this point would be meaningless. Pakistan wasted too much time in responding to the Salala attack on a diplomatic level,” said Khokhar. He said Pakistan’s going into Chicago summit without opening NATO supply lines was indicative of the prevailing lack of understanding and trust deficit between Pakistan and the US.

“In the first place, the prime minister as the country’s chief executive, and not the president, should have represented Pakistan in Chicago,” said the former envoy.

Former foreign secretary Tanvir Ahmed Khan stated that Pak-US relations have always been transactional and Pakistanis feel the government is appeasing the US. “What we are seeing is a mutually contrived orchestration of the way forward,” he said.

He added that the Pakistan Army viewed anti-Pakistan sentiments in Washington as part of a propaganda barrage to reconfigure the country’s armed forces and their role in the region.

Khan said Pakistan took a bold but unsustainable decision and inevitably it would have to reopen NATO supply routes.

Lt. Gen. (retd) Talat Masood said serious measures need to be taken to address the declining levels of trust, or Pak-US relationship might rupture irreparably. Raza Rumi, Director Policy and Programmes Jinnah Institute, concluded by saying that improvement in Pak-US relations is crucial for regional stability.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2012.


G.A. | 10 years ago | Reply

Good relations with other countries is an admirable thing but never on the cost of one's own prestige.....if one believes it should have it. There is no doubt that whosoever are the people in charge of making our foreign policy are the loyal ones, but there had been a fundamental mistake of undermining the principles of goodness or fairness in order to gain short term benefits. Wrong or unfair paths for sake of good cannot sustain itself in the long run because of the very nature of wrong.

Anon.. | 10 years ago | Reply

Umm yea all these US apologists are coming up with excuses to push for opening of the NATO supplies, but they need to realise that the public is still bristling with anger at the way US has been treating us and the killings of our soldiers. An apology this late would be meaningless but will still in principle be an apology which is something we deserve. If these people push ahead with the opening of the supplies without apology, it may please the US and sort things in the short term,but there is going to a huge backlash in the long term. So they need to think carefully before they do so and not listen to these pseudo policy experts who are nothing but apologists for the US.

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