Pakistan-US ties

Published: November 30, 2012
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While we would all like to unwrap the US chain from around our necks and break free of Washington’s bondage, this is not an easy task. PHOTO: FILE

While we would all like to unwrap the US chain from around our necks and break free of Washington’s bondage, this is not an easy task. PHOTO: FILE

In an interview with a foreign news agency, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, has said that after a period of strain, ties with the US are now back to normal and the two nations are working in close coordination once again. It is somewhat difficult to say if this is good news or bad. The relationship with Washington has been an unequal one since it first began in the 1950s, with issues of sovereignty raised again and again. In recent years, drone strikes in northern areas have been especially problematic, with the periodic invasion of air space raising many questions. Today, such incursions continue.

But realistically speaking, Pakistan cannot do without the US — at least, not on a short-term basis. There are too many economic, military and political equations at play. While we would all like to unwrap the US chain from around our necks and break free of Washington’s bondage, this is not an easy task. Questions also arise within the country of what would happen if we did break free — and if this would result in elements linked to the militants more actively trying to promote them in the region. This scenario is not one to be contemplated in a country that has suffered immensely due to the growth of extremism on its soil.

Last year, the Raymond Davis affair, the capture of Osama bin Laden and in November, the killing of 24 soldiers in a cross-border strike at Salala caused a serious fraying in ties. Now that these have been healed, Islamabad needs to look a little further ahead. We need, for now, at least, to keep some kind of linkage with the US. But for the future we must also think of how we can move towards greater freedom from the US leash, promote our own interests while dealing with the US and find within ourselves the commitment and capacity we badly need to chalk out our own direction for the future — serving the needs of our own people first and foremost, rather than anyone else or any other nation.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • numbersnumbers
    Nov 30, 2012 - 1:22AM

    Wow, greater freedom from the US “leash”! Pakistan can start by raising the taxes needed to actually pay for services the country desperately needs instead of bringing out the BEGGING BOWL every year! That should be be easy since Pakistan already has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world! The hard part being getting the ELITES to start paying taxes that they are totally exempt from now due to their influence in the government!

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  • Brazy Bompton
    Nov 30, 2012 - 2:04AM

    Stop the arms race in South Asia and stop bankrolling militant outfits that destabilize the region. Chart a new course by by dismantling the madrassa institutions and replacing it with a secular educational system. Invest in human resources not arms and terrorists and maybe you can exercise greater freedom from the US after dismantling the terrorist networks that exist in Pakistan.

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  • DAIS
    Nov 30, 2012 - 8:54AM

    If it is in the economic interest of Pakistan to maintain close relationship with US, so be it. No other consideration should dictate our relationship with any country. The incidents of Raymond Davis and the capture of Osama bin Laden reflects Pakistan’s policy of going against the international opinion. Countries who do not agree with the US policies avoid confrontation and continue to enjoy the economic benefits by trading with the biggest economy in the world. Emotions and economy (read welfare of people) do not go together.

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  • Mirza
    Nov 30, 2012 - 9:45AM

    The time for free lunches is over the day OBL was found and killed in a military base. Pakistan has to cut its non productive expenses if it has to survive despite the US aid. There are no other options.

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  • Nov 30, 2012 - 11:35PM

    No one can deny that we are fighting a common enemy for over a decade now. We’ve lost thousands of brave soldiers in fighting terrorism. It is our shared will and desire to defeat terrorism that helps us overcome challenges and obstacles associated with the WOT. We must remain focused on achieving our ultimate goal of restoring peace in the region. We’ve worked too hard and made too many sacrifices to get to where we are today. Our common enemies would certainly wish to see us part ways for the sake of gaining advantage. But we need to work closely and negate the common threat that is preventing us from achieving our shared objectives.

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  • F
    Dec 1, 2012 - 11:46AM

    There will be equally loud cheers on the US side too. You should listen to your people who overwhelmingly believe the US is an enemy state. Your leadership taught them that. Now don’t find reasons in the “short term”. Just demonstrate that you can do without the US immediately. The Iranians did. They did not find any excuse to deal with the US. What is stopping you?

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