Editorial - Uncertain future - Sunday, April 24, 2011

As the army top brass and the senior civil servants of Pakistan and the US shuttle to and fro between Washington and Islamabad; there is little mention as yet of what underlies their work. The presidents of both countries are committed to visiting one another this year. President Obama is due here at some undefined point, and a date is yet to be fixed, though is long awaited, when President Zardari is to visit the USA. These visits will probably be key to the tone and nature of our future relationship, and neither president will want to place himself in the position of walking into a bear-trap. The blowback from the Raymond Davis affair has now poisoned the atmosphere to the extent that there must be doubts over whether it will be possible for either visit to go ahead. But they may, and preparatory to all such visits-of-state there is a round of meetings at a variety of levels which is the way-paver, setting the agendas and preparing any documents or agreements that might be signed. Presidents never do their own legwork. Although that was not an explicit part of the Admiral Mullen visit here, it will be a part of the sub-text, and the mood-music is dark.

Thus far the signals emanating from the interactions have been largely negative. The drone strike of Friday that left 25 dead including women and children underscored the negativism – as if it was needed. The Americans dropped the hammer from the outset accusing our leading intelligence agency of having ‘longstanding’ relationships with the Haqqani network, an Afghan-Taliban group with roots in North Waziristan – which is almost certainly their rear-echelon rest and resupply area which we have thus far refused to mount an operation against. The Americans that there are elements of our intelligence agencies that continue to back the extremists as part of a doctrine of strategic depth, wherein such assets would be a hedge against the designs of a very pushy India in a post-US Afghanistan. Once again, the ‘not doing enough’ mantra has got an airing, to be robustly denied by General Kayani who has said that the “army’s ongoing operations are a testimony of our national resolve to defeat terrorism”. In Washington, on Friday, all was smiles and handshakes as both countries reaffirmed their commitment to the strategic partnership, at the same time acknowledging that there were going to be ‘operational’ differences as to how the battle against extremism should be fought. America is to give us a flock of Ravens, unarmed pilotless drones to help win that battle and there will be other sweeteners along the way; but the Mullen visit seems to confirm that although we still have a functional relationship of worth, its quality is diminished. Can presidential visits go ahead in such a febrile atmosphere? Perhaps, but both will have to tread carefully like they have never trod before if the bear-traps are not to snap shut.

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=43380&Cat=8

No comments:

Post a Comment