Editorial : More mending - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

There appears to be much mending of fences as the dust begins to settle on the Raymond Davis affair. After a fortnight spent in his home country, Ambassador Cameron Munter was back and speaking to the media. He called for a policy of ‘renewal’ after what he described as a period of ‘acute problems’ and was clearly doing his best to turn a threat into an opportunity. Unfortunately communal memory is rarely in step with diplomatic requirements. We may be a large aid recipient that America gives money to in support of its foreign policies, but there is a deep and abiding suspicion of America at every level of society and it is difficult to say that all of it is unfounded. That suspicion is sometimes manifest as outright hatred. To say that America has an ‘image problem’ in Pakistan understates the case by several orders of magnitude.

Creating a countervailing narrative to that which currently pertains is an uphill job for America, and Cameron Munter’s speech was long on emollients and platitudes and short on anything new or insightful. It is going to be some time before there is ‘business as usual’ between us and the US, and there is going to have to be a significant diminution in the numbers of covert operatives or private contractors, and those that are here of necessity need to have their diplomatic status defined with crystal clarity before they set foot on our streets. We are going to need to see fewer drone strikes and preferably no drone strikes at all. There need to be joint operations at every level. For Munter to say that he was ‘more optimistic about our relations today’ than when he came to Pakistan, suggests that he has little or no contact with the average Pakistani. It is that fundamental disconnect that needs addressing, because without it the mindset of a majority of the population is going to remain unshakeable, unchanged. The dust may be settling on the Davis affair but the wounds it has left are going to take years to heal and for some they never will. It may prove to be the single most damaging incident to US/Pakistan relations for decades. The directors of our intelligence services and the head of the CIA have met in the US to continue the repair work, although their meeting seemed strangely truncated and our man returned home after twenty-four hours, with silence on all sides as to the nature and content of their discussion. No matter how damaged relations may be, a stark truth remains. We need America, and America is just as needy of us but in a different way. American dollars may keep us afloat, but our cooperation across a range of military and intelligence matters floats the American boat as well. But this is no love marriage, instead a marriage of convenience. And it is going to need a lot more than a soft-centred speech by Mr Munter to smooth what remains a rocky road.

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=41282&Cat=8

No comments:

Post a Comment