Summer of content: Sunny days begin anew for Pak-US relations

Published: August 3, 2012
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Broad strategic issues and opportunities for “new beginnings” discussed between Pakistani and American officials simultaneously in Houston and Islamabad. PHOTO: FILE

Broad strategic issues and opportunities for “new beginnings” discussed between Pakistani and American officials simultaneously in Houston and Islamabad. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD / HOUSTON: After months of frost, US-Pakistan alliance showed on Thursday just how far the thaw had come in a short period of time – or, as a top US commander called it, “an upward spiral” in relations.

While the top US commander in Afghanistan General John Allen and Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met in Rawalpindi, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam spent a busy day in Washington meeting top congressional leaders at a dinner.

Before the two meetings, Pakistan had confirmed that it had received a massive $1.1 billion from the US under the overdue Coalition Support Fund (CSF) – the first such payment in close to two years.

Kayani-Allen

In Rawalpindi, “significant progress” was being made in improving cooperation between the allies during the army chief’s meeting with the top US commander in Afghanistan – including on the divisive issue of the Haqqani network.

The talks between Gen Allen and Gen Kayani at the General Headquarters focused on improving security along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and cooperation between Afghan, Pakistani and Nato troops, said a statement released by both sides.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the army chief assured Gen Allen that Pakistan would take action against ‘terrorist sanctuaries’ in the tribal areas provided the US shares ‘actionable intelligence’.

Without naming the Haqqani network, a joint statement said Gen Allen and Gen Kayani agreed to expand opportunities for coordinated action against what it called “terrorists on respective sides of the border who threaten Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the region.”

According to sources, the statement was referring to the Haqqani network as well as militants that have launched repeated cross-border raids into Pakistan from Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces. The two generals discussed various options to eliminate the Haqqani network and other insurgent groups, the sources added.

The offer by the army chief appears to be a significant departure from Islamabad’s previous reluctance to go after the Haqqani network. However, that may change now, as the two countries publicly hinted at coordinated operations against groups threatening peace on either side of the border. US officials have called repeatedly on Pakistan to move against the Haqqani network, a militant faction loyal to the Afghan Taliban.

Earlier this week, The New York Times claimed that General Kayani recently told US officials in private that he would launch a three-phase military operation against the Haqqanis over the next 12 months.

After the meeting Allen, who is on his first visit since Islamabad ended a blockade on Nato supplies, said that “significant progress” was being made in improving cooperation. “I look forward to these visits and am pleased with the upward spiral in our relationship they represent,” Allen said.

Kayani was quoted as saying that Thursday’s meeting had “helped towards improving strategic and operational understanding between the Pakistan military and Isaf.”

ISI chief in US

ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam had a busy day in Washington during his first official trip to the US. Islam met top congressional leaders at a dinner hosted by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman, sources told The Express Tribune. The guest list included Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Congressman Mike Rogers, and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, while Deputy CIA Director Mike Morrell and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also attended the reception, according to sources.

While no details were immediately forthcoming about the mood of the meetings, a source said that the ISI leader discussed mutual challenges and ways to go forward on joint concerns with the US. Broad strategic issues and opportunities for “new beginnings” were also discussed.

The Pakistan Embassy and the Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment on the ISI chief’s visit.

The ISI Director is scheduled to meet CIA Director David Petraeus and US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Marc Grossman.

CSF payment

Washington released $1.1 billion following the signing of a new agreement between Pakistan and US on Nato convoys. The fund, which is designed to reimburse Pakistan for the cost of counter-insurgency operations, paid $8.8 billion to Pakistan between 2002 and 2011. But Islamabad stopped claiming the money as relations collapsed in the wake of the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

“We received $1.118 billion from the coalition support fund last night,” Syed Wasimuddin, spokesman for the central State Bank of Pakistan, told AFP. He said it was the first installment since $633 million in December 2010. (ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Yasir Mehmood
    Aug 3, 2012 - 3:25AM

    And hence the end of Imran Khan and DPC dharnas

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  • ballu
    Aug 3, 2012 - 3:38AM

    Isi and army is in hands with usa govt then why zaid hamid cries out loud on tv that govt has sold pakistan like 1971…. beyond my comprehension…

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  • True Voice of Pakistan
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:16AM

    Nice venture….It will help Pakistan to deal with its economic and power (electricity) challenges…

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  • Aug 3, 2012 - 9:36AM

    Let us earnestly hope that its not the case of sunny days for US and rainy days for Pakistan.

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  • Raj
    Aug 3, 2012 - 9:37AM

    Hope this is the last tranche and peace will return to the region.

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  • Enlightened
    Aug 3, 2012 - 11:46AM

    Too early to call, just wait for another attack by Haqqanis in Kabul and situation would be back to square one.

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  • blaizebob
    Aug 3, 2012 - 2:16PM

    Let us hope they hobble together and lay the groundwork for the Imperial forces to return home…

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  • Sardar KHAN
    Aug 4, 2012 - 12:15AM

    Good news but how long americans stick to the agreement.

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  • Sep 14, 2012 - 8:06PM

    Dear Syed Nayyar Uddin Ahmad,

    We should be optimistic about the future of our relationship. We are fighting a common war, and it only makes sense for us to cooperate and coordinate against our common enemies. The recent meetings between our government officials show that we are working closely to address our common objectives. We’ve been able to overcome some difficult situations and realize that it is in our best interest to work together and negate the threat pose by terrorist organizations like the Haqqani network and the TTP. We echo what George E. Little, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, said recently: “We believe that the Pakistani government shares our view that terrorists threaten both countries, both Pakistan and the United States. Scores of Pakistanis have regrettably been killed by terrorists inside Pakistan. We, of course, have suffered losses as well, inside Pakistan and elsewhere, from al-Qaeda and from other terrorist groups operating along the Afghan-Pakistan border. So we have common cause with the Pakistanis. We’re working closely with the Pakistanis on the counterterrorism issue, and we will continue to do so.”

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