The future of Pak-US relations

Published: May 30, 2012
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The ISI chief’s refusal to meet with his American counterparts may halt the progress being made in Pak-US relations. PHOTO: FILE

The ISI chief’s refusal to meet with his American counterparts may halt the progress being made in Pak-US relations. PHOTO: FILE

The visit of ISI Director-General Zaheerul Islam to the US may or may not have been postponed due to “pressing commitments” at home, as claimed by a military spokesman, but there is no doubt that the delay will be seen as a snub by the Americans. Specifically, the postponement sends the signal that the military is yet to forgive the US for the Salala raid. As important as the issue may be, it should not hold the far larger matter of the Pakistan-US alliance hostage. We have already protested the Salala raid by blocking Nato supplies for six months. Further antagonising the US will not make the point any more forcefully and will only defer vital cooperation on fighting militants.

But if the ISI is to make the first conciliatory step in the form of its chief agreeing to go to Washington, then the US will also have to reciprocate. It is unfortunate that the US did not apologise for the Salala raid, since it was at fault there. The US should also immediately release the over $1 billion in Coalition Support Funds it is withholding from Pakistan. As the junior member of this fractious relationship, the ISI may have to make the first move, but it should at least be confident that the US will meet it halfway. Repairing the trust between the two sides will take both time and patience.

Meanwhile, the government, which technically should be making all the decisions, should be allowed to take the lead for now. It has repeatedly signalled its willingness to work with and compromise with the US. Pakistan’s attendance at the Nato Chicago conference and negotiations over reopening Nato’s supply routes went a long way towards normalising relations. The ISI chief’s refusal to meet with his American counterparts may halt that progress. That would neither be beneficial for a military that is reliant on the US for its financing nor for the Americans who need an ally in the region, no matter how shaky the relations. The time for posturing on both sides is over. Only through constant meetings and dialogue will trust between them increase.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2012.

 

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Reader Comments (20)

  • John B
    May 31, 2012 - 12:32AM

    “It is unfortunate that the US did not apologise for the Salala raid, since it was at fault there.”

    The US investigation concluded otherwise. It was PAK fault in refusing to sit at the joint investigation.

    The NATO supply route fiasco was longtime in making, and salalah became an excuse.

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  • Wtf
    May 31, 2012 - 12:36AM

    Why don’t you start writing for Times magazine ?

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  • HST
    May 31, 2012 - 1:40AM

    i think the pak military knows whats it doing and i think they have started to have an idea of the double game the Americans are playing with pakistan.. and its a matter of the security of Pakistan that these drastic steps have been taken by the military. as far as the lead role is concerned. there is no compromise over security. i think the salala incident is one of its kind and there aren’t any examples of collateral damage in the history of warfare ever,, none of any i know. specially given in the context the Pak army has cooperated with usa in nabbing every single individual wanted by usa.. Not to forget the ramond davis incident, what was he doing here in pak, taking pictures of secretly?. This relation is not a cats life that it be given further exact nine lives. i think the USA has proven its intentions and our importance it hold after this attack not to mention this is not the first attack that had took place on the line of boarder. and i think the time for social hypocrisy is over as far as USA PAK joint venture over this war is concerned.. there is also plenty of more to come. wait and see from the PAK army….. its a matter of national dignity and the validity of existence of the institution of armed forces in the eyes of its people…..and i dont think that the Americans will be left off the hook this time.

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  • gp65
    May 31, 2012 - 2:41AM

    So the US should
    1) Apologize
    2) Clear the US $1 bilion coaliation support fund

    In return, Pakistan will
    – Send ISI head to US

    Seriously,
    This is your solution?

    You DO know why US is not apologizing right? Their inquiry (wchihc could have been a joint inquiry if Pakistan had agreed to the conduct of a joint inquiry) stated that the firing had started on Pakistani side and ANA asked for support from NATO forces. So they did express regret over lives lost but clearly did not feel they owed an apology.

    As for coaliation support funds – there are 2 things that US wants
    – NATO supply route – which is currently blocked
    – no safe havens to Afghan Taliban and Haqqanis (which Pak has never provided)

    So if there is no coaliation support, why should there be coaliation support funds?

    Finally what will US gain by ISI chief going there which could not be achieved by Zardari going there? Remember he had gone there after a DCC meeting attended by ISI and COAS and so must supposedly have presented an opinion that represented them.

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  • Char Latan
    May 31, 2012 - 3:00AM

    The time to discuss the future of Pakistan-US relations has passed.

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  • Sky
    May 31, 2012 - 3:21AM

    What a sell off editorial.
    It was great how you mentioned how Zardari was snubbed in Chicago. Talk about meeting half way?

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  • Jim
    May 31, 2012 - 7:20AM

    Oh, btw, have you read recent stories of why Pakistan should be apologizing to the United States and the rest of the world, don’t you? Too long to elaborate here, but do a search and read up on terrorism. You’ll understand why Pakistan, and not the U.S, needs to apologize. Of course, your media..and your history, will never tell the Pakistani people the truth.

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  • Feroz
    May 31, 2012 - 8:11AM

    I do not think time is on the side of the country. Patience in most global capitals seems to be running out. Let the moment not slip.

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  • Mirza
    May 31, 2012 - 8:23AM

    Great editorial in an independent minded paper. Thanks for that. I feel it is a bit too late for any meaningful future of US-Pakistani relationship. We have shot ourselves on the foot and now we have to come out and show remorse and present the whole truth about the terrorist havens and duplicity in our policy. The game is over for Pakistan and now in the US there is talk that Pakistan should apologize. Here is an article in a local paper:

    Ten reasons why Pakistan should apologize to U.S.

    By Malik Siraj Akbar
    The Chicago Tribune
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/ct-oped-0529-apologize-20120527,0,1137126.story

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  • Truthseeker
    May 31, 2012 - 8:58AM

    The US has given up on Pakistan so has the rest of the world

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  • Truthsought
    May 31, 2012 - 11:00AM

    Now you are seeing what you were seeking. Absolute truth….

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  • Bee
    May 31, 2012 - 12:12PM

    Just why cant you people Leave Pakistan…..

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  • Nand
    May 31, 2012 - 1:35PM

    @Mirza:
    The link provide is written by a Pakistani. It shows the true picture of Pakistan.

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  • Omer
    May 31, 2012 - 3:04PM

    Having more meetings is the solution put forward by this editorial. May I remind that there extra ordinary meeting before the Abottabad invasion. So I don’t think that more meetings will solve anything.

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  • Nasir
    May 31, 2012 - 9:40PM

    I can understand the frustration of all pro-US trolls same like US itself where Pakistan stands tall and asked the US to do more to normalize the relations this time.

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  • Vinod
    Jun 1, 2012 - 12:16AM

    @Nand:
    By an EXILED Pakistani. It does indeed show the true picture of Pakistan!

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  • Cautious
    Jun 1, 2012 - 5:11AM

    The ISI chief’s refusal to meet with
    his American counterparts may halt
    that progress.

    You place too much attention on form vs substance — Zardari went to Chicago with nothing substantive to say and many would agree that Pakistan’s reputation took a big hit. Same analogy applies here.

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  • HST
    Jun 5, 2012 - 1:32PM

    @Jim:
    look who is talking its your media and your government that keeps lying to you and making you a fool in the eyes of the world. time to get up buddy or else!

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  • HST
    Jun 5, 2012 - 1:33PM

    @Truthseeker:
    like you gave up on iraq?

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  • HST
    Jun 5, 2012 - 1:39PM

    @Mirza:
    the link you have provided has fabricated information it was far better if you had included the world trade center incident at the top…. its all a bunch of crap…. americans were given info regarding the possible location of osama in that locality which they further worked on. dr afridi is a pakistani and is answerable to pakistani law and loyality.. mumabi attack has nothing to do with usa same goes for the rest of your flawed list… all lies and fabrication

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