Tutorial : More sparring - Friday 22nd April 2011

WHATEVER hope there may have been that Adm Mike Mullen`s visit to Pakistan would help reduce tensions between Pakistan and the US eva-porated when the admiral trotted out the Haqqani-ISI links to criticise the security establishment here in unusually specific language for public statements. The response from the Pakistani side was swift, with the army chief, Gen Kayani, rejecting the “negative propaganda” of the US and the American claim that the army lacks “clarity” on the way forward in the fight against militancy. The back-and-forth between the American and Pakistani military principals appears to suggest that the tussle to renegotiate the rules on American activities in Pakistan is far from being resolved. Unhappily, then, the potential for a further deterioration in ties remains high.
What prompted Adm Mullen to make the speci-fic allegations against the ISI at this point? In the murky intelligence world, particularly looking in from the outside, nothing can be said with certainty. But it would appear that as the ISI has pushed fiercely following the Raymond Davis incident to limit the American presence and the sphere of activity inside Pakistan further, the American national security establishment is seeking to push back against the ISI in order to preserve, to the extent possible, US activities inside Pakistan. However, Adm Mullen`s comments have had the unfortunate consequence of broadening the immediate dispute to once again bring in longstanding problems on Afghanistan. Given the intractable nature of some of the problems between the two countries, anything which broadens an immediate source of disagreement is unwelcome. Indeed, on Afghanistan there has been a more positive atmosphere between the US and Pakistan in recent times. The US has not shut down attempts by the Pakistan security establishment and political government to engage the Karzai government on the issue of reconciliation with the Taliban, while in Pakistan analysts familiar with the army`s views have been keen to drum up the `convergences` between the thinking of the American and the Pakistani sides on Afghanistan as the American endgame in that country approaches.
When the highest echelons of two states seem willing to spar, is there anything that can be done to bring down the temperature? Perhaps only when reality reasserts itself. Unhappy as the US administration and the Pakistani establishment may be with one another, the relationship is ultimately one of interdependence. And to a large extent there remains a common enemy: militancy. The militants of most concern to the US may differ from the ones of most concern to Pakistan, but the more the US and Pakistan disagree, the more the militants as a whole may benefit.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/22/more-sparring.html

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