Pak-US ties

Terms of engagement in the war on terror are up on the surface for negotiations between Pakistan and the US ever since the controversial issues of Raymond Davis case, the Abbottabad operation and the suspension of $ 800 million military assistance to Pakistan have come forward. Relations between Pakistan and the US are going through a rough patch as the trust deficit between the two countries has considerably widened.

The US top military commander has once again stressed Pakistan to move against the members of Haqqani network to eliminate safe havens of terrorists from its soil. While in a meeting with the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, President Zardari has called for defined and documented terms of engagement between the two countries so that any dispute could be settled amicably through the available institutions, thus avoiding any damage to the bilateral relations.

President Zardari has put forth the same thing that the ISI has been demanding of the CIA for quite some time now. The restrictions on the movement of the US diplomats in Pakistan irked the US to the extent that in retaliation, the US threatened to impose similar restrictions on Pakistan’s diplomats in its country. The US is not convinced with Pakistan’s clarification that it wants to provide security cover to the diplomats travelling outside the federal capital and has termed it against the Geneva Convention.

The US has been enjoying undocumented and unclear rules in Pakistan since Musharraf’s time. But now Pakistan wants clear and specified engagements with the US in the war on terror, which is good sign. Pakistan is a sovereign state and the US cannot keep defying our laws with impunity. The frequent movements of the US diplomats has caused serious problems in Pakistan as several unwarranted incidents have occurred in the past where US diplomats had to be given relaxation despite their inappropriate conduct. Besides the Raymond Davis issue, US consulate cars with fake number plates have been caught many times on inter-provincial travels. There have been reports of resistance and failure of the US diplomats in disclosing their identity to the security agencies at different checkposts in the country.

The US’s clandestine raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad was also a trespassing attempt in Pakistan’s territory. The incident caused immense embarrassment to both the government and the military of Pakistan. The issue of drone attacks has also been a bone of contention between the two countries as Pakistan had given permission to the US to use drones in its terrain only for reconnaissance purpose but the US has been using it to directly attack the terrorists, thus violating the permission and causing death of many innocents as well.

Without taking care of the bilateral relations, the US has been constantly breaching Pakistan’s sovereignty because of the absence of a clearly laid out framework of cooperation between the two countries. Despite blocking Pakistan military aid, the ‘do more’ mantra is continued with the same pace, as Mr Mullen has once again demanded an action against the Haqqani network. It is about time to put relations with the US on an equal footing. The government should show consistency with the ISI’s demand and lay down a framework, obligating the CIA to work transparently in Pakistan. Pakistan is the frontline US ally in its war on terror. It has rendered thousands of lives and suffered huge financial losses so far. There is a need to clearly inform the US that any further cooperation with the US will be based on expression of mutual trust and respect. – Dailytimes