PARTNERSHIP AND PRIORITY- ALI SUKHANVER

The Pak-US strategic dialogues held in the last week of March, 2010 could have been more fruitful if the  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had not bestowed upon  Pakistan the status of being a ‘priority’ in US strategic plan. In her preface to the dialogues she lauded the role of Pakistan towards establishment of peace in South Asia and termed the security and stability of Pakistan as a ‘top priority’.

The Pak-US strategic dialogues were supposed to shorten the widening distances between the two countries but apparently the only thing Pakistan could get out of these talks is the status of being’ Priority’ in the US strategic plan. The people of Pakistan are happy that the leaders of Pakistan including the army Chief General Kiyani pleaded the case of Pakistan in the most forceful and successful manner but they are disappointed at the US approach towards Pakistan. They know that priorities keep on changing from time to time but partnership is something more deep-rooted and long lasting. Truly speaking, Pakistan never needed the status of being called a ‘priority’, it deserved to be taken care as a partner. 

As pointed out by Hillary Clinton, ‘the two nations have had misunderstandings and disagreements in the past and there are sure to be more disagreements in the future but the Obama administration has shown in words and deeds a different approach and attitude toward Pakistan’. Unfortunately the US administration has never tried sincerely to find out the root causes of these misunderstandings and disagreements. In spite of such a long companionship with Pakistan, the USA never succeeded in winning the hearts of the people of Pakistan. The so-called Pak-US relationship has never been very popular with the people of Pakistan. They are of the opinion that America has always been exploiting this self-styled relationship for its own specified purposes. If America were sincere with the people of Pakistan, it could have done a lot for them in shape of economic and social reforms; it could have strengthened the armed forces of Pakistan so that they might be able to fight more enthusiastically against the menace of terrorism. Instead of showering drones and missiles on innocent citizens of Pakistan, it could have provided them with new opportunities for earning their bread but it never happened so. As a result of it, there came nothing but hatred and disliking for America on the part of the Pakistani people. The recent sugar-coated statement of Hillary Clinton has added more fuel to the already blazing passions of the Pakistani nation. If the people of Pakistan are given two options; either to accept the supremacy of the Islamic extremists or to believe the American crocodile story of love and affection, they would surely opt for the first one, taking it as the lesser evil. Most of the Pakistanis think that USA is responsible for all economic destabilization, energy crisis and the worst situation of law and order in Pakistan. They rank the USA as the most distrusted and the most doubtful force which is continuously undermining the very foundations of Pakistan. The most important thing is the need of a very honest analysis in this regard.

There are so many elements which are widening the breach between Pakistan and the USA; one of them is the extra-ordinary inclination of America towards India. Its civil nuclear pact with India, its assistance in providing new weapon technology and setting up stronger trade relations with India are some of the examples in this respect. USA has been intentionally ignoring the role of Pakistan which is vitally helpful for a long lasting peace in the South Asia. There is a very strong Indian lobby in the American society which is continuously disfiguring the US-Pak relationship in a secret manner. Whenever Obama administration plans to do something better for the people of Pakistan, this lobby starts manipulating the situation. Some of the American media-men are also playing in the hands of this lobby in collaboration with the Indian media. We see that before the commencement of the Strategic dialogues, the Indian newspapers started raising hue and cry that these dialogues would prove useless and futile. Some of the newspapers pleaded that the USA must not go for dialogues with a country which supports terrorism and extremism. Let us cast a look at the ‘breaking news’ which was brought to light by the Indian newspapers on the 25th of March, just at the time when the strategic dialogues were in process. The title given to this news was,’ ISI pressing Indian terror suspects to launch attacks.’ According to the concocted details published under this title, many terrorists who have been given protection for quite a number of years have been asked to prove their worth or face consequences by ISI. This was revealed during investigations into the alleged plans of Sikh militant group Babbar Khalsa International men to plant a bomb in the national capital and Himachal Pradesh. The men were being provided directions by Pakistan-based Wadhwa Singh and Parminder Singh, who figure in dossier of wanted terrorists passed to Pakistan recently. The men have been provided cover for so long and they were asked to show their worth to enjoy the shelter of the ISI,” Another point to be noted is that this breaking news was warmly welcomed and spread more wildly by those American newspapers which gave no coverage to the Pak-US strategic dialogues. This situation is simply the result of a very well planned conspiracy against Pakistan.

Fruitful or fruitless, these dialogues must have a very important strategic value from the US and Pakistan’s point of view but they seem a pain in the neck for the countries like India. It is very much difficult to understand why India is so much worried about the strengthening relationship between Pakistan and the USA. Whenever there is any attempt of bringing these two countries closer, either on the part of Pakistan or USA, India starts crying like an innocent stubborn child who is not ready to share his love for his mother with any one, even with his father. Feeling India’s restlessness over these dialogues the special US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke had already stated that the US-Pakistan strategic dialogues are not at India’s expense. Talking to the media men a few days before the commencement of the dialogues he said, “We have an important strategic dialogue with India and with other countries, including China. It makes it all the more important we have one with Pakistan But this is a bilateral dialogue and it would be different from the one with India.” He further said, “Let me put this very clearly: This strategic dialogue with Pakistan is not at the expense of any other country in the region.” But in spite of all these affirmations India could not pacify its restlessness over these dialogues. The people of Pakistan are expecting another Raw-maneuvered episode like that of the Mumbai attacks in India and as usual the blame would be fixed upon the ISI and Pakistan army. They know very well that India would surely try to sabotage the next meeting of the strategic dialogue to be held in Islamabad co-chaired by Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Qureshi. All such Indian attempts would be an effort to make America realise that its inclination towards a ‘terrorist country’ like Pakistan is unwisely.

Indian restlessness over the Pak-US relationship seems quite out of place and illogical because these two countries, India and Pakistan, have altogether different nature of relationship with the USA. Pakistan is a necessity and India is a tool. Necessities could never be avoided and ignored whereas tools keep on changing. Sometimes they become outdated and sometimes out of order. So the value and importance of India and Pakistan could never be measured with the same yard stick.

The writer is a Pakistan based bilingual analyst on national and international strategic and defense affairs.

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