Senator Kerry’s hectic visit

Given the brazen violation of Pakistan’s territorial integrity by the American raiders on May 2, the Pak-US bilateral relationship may never regain the warmth it had when the two sides joined together as anti-terrorism allies.In the wake of the Abbottabad raid, the officials on both sides took tough enough positions and appeared to be too uncompromising to brook possibility of revival of the bilateral ties which were so much the hallmark of their co-operative modes during the decade-long alliance against terrorism and extremism. In America, a number of officials and Congressmen spoke in threatening tones; they even talked of severing ties with Islamabad. In Pakistan, anti-American sentiment climbed many notches, as the national parliament demanded drastic revision of the bilateral relationship.Placed against this desperate backdrop the fact that Senator John Kerry could help discover some space where Pakistan and the United States could work together is no mean achievement. Even as he has yet to successfully persuade his colleagues in the Congress, some of whom are baying for Pakistan’s blood, of the need to revive Pak-US bilateralism and even as the government of Pakistan has yet to institute investigation into the Abbottabad saga by a high-profile independent commission, the job done by Senator Kerry does lay down a realistic roadmap.No wonder then the joint statement issued after his meetings with the Pakistani leaders breaks the news that the two sides have agreed that their anti-terrorism alliance needs to press the “reset button” on the Pak-US partnership. Pakistan desires its relations with the United States should go forward on the basis of “mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual interest” as its leadership “made clear that Pakistan’s sovereignty and interests must be respected and accommodated by the US”. According to the joint statement, it was also agreed that the two countries “will work together in any future actions against high-value targets in Pakistan”.

For its part, Pakistan has agreed to take “several immediate steps to underscore its seriousness in renewing the full co-operative effort with States”. Does that mean that Pakistan will launch a military operation in North Waziristan or flush out the pro-Haqqani network elements from there, there was no indication as such. Now that ball seems to have been set rolling there would be meetings between the two sides to expand on these understandings; the one most crucial could be the yet to be formally announced visit of Secretary of State Clinton. Senator Kerry was much more subdued in his choice of words as against his statement a day before in Afghanistan. His extensive talks with the Pakistani civil and military leaderships seem to have lent some realism to his perspective on the Pak-US relationship.

And Senator Kerry also offered his versions/answers to some of the popular criticism of the Pakistani public. As to why the US military did not inform their Pakistani counterparts of the Abbottabad raid, he said that the secrecy surrounding the operation was strictly “for reasons of operational security and not because of the mistrust of Pakistani leadership”. That’s too naïve an argument to justify incursion into the territory of an independent country in sheer violation of international law.His position that the United States will not apologise for this violation smacks of arrogance, to what extent his words that he was prepared ‘to write in blood’ that the US has no designs on Pakistan’s nuclear assets does not sit well with the Pakistani perspective. But we do know that having failed at the Conference of Disarmament to freeze Pakistan’s fissile material programme the United States is now hectically exploring other forums, including the UN Security Council for the said purpose. – Brecorder