Friday, March 23, 2012

(opinion): Bad bargaining

The relationship between the United Sates and Pakistan was always going to be strained, but in light of recent events, it is hard to see where the rebuilding of the US/Pakistani relationship can begin. however, Pakistani MPs have today have come up with a suggestion, stop drone attacks in our country! Now this sound like a fair demand as killing scores of innocent Pakistani citizens as well as their not so innocent citizens is sure to cause friction. 

add to this mix the death of Pakistani army members and you got yourself a real problem in a country with no shortage of them. It would be a good start for the US slow down or stop drone attacks in Pakistan of people they suspect to be terrorists but the United States has always had the 'we answer to nobody' air about their foreign policy and to stop them means your country becomes carpet-bomb central.You only have to look at Iran to see this as a top level meeting with Iran's ruling bodies would go some way to quell some of the fear fuelling Iran dash for nuclear capability  but that would require a demonstration of  reason.

good relations with Pakistan is imperative to the United States' other mission in Afghanistan,  where there is a large Pashtun population in both countries who share a border,with the united states continuing their drone campaign, are likely to rile up discontent and likely violence in both countries. however the tension between the united states and Pakistan is not entirely the fault of the US.With the US finally finding and killing Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, living so close to a military base in the most suspicious looking house in the area, this made US officials come to the conclusion that Pakistani intelligence knew of Bin Laden's whereabouts.

However, the eventual capture and killing of Bin Laden in Pakistan came as no shock to a number of ex intelligence officers and journalists who cover the region who all correctly predicted years before that Bin Laden would be in Pakistan. The Bush administration actively gave up on finding Bin laden in the midst of the war in Iraq despite it being known that Bin Laden wasn't in Afghanistan and was probably in Pakistan along with many other members of Al-Qaeda who fled after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. 

A starting point to mending the fractured relationship between Pakistan and the US is to find common ground on the issues that binded them together in the first place.the main issue that binds these countries is terrorism as many terrorist recruit in Pakistan, have set up madrases,  and have devised attacks, mainly in the south of Pakistan. But even finding common ground there is difficult as it has been widely reported that the Pakistani army have relationships with some terrorists groups. 

Another issue where common ground can be found is the supply of aid in light of the crushing poverty in Pakistan, made worse by the floods of 2011. This should provide no sticking point as aid to Pakistan helps US in their effort to stop terrorism , providing opportunity to people in a land where little exists, making Pakistan fertile ground where terrorists can recruit. However, it can be argued that the US has supplied Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid and have seen little in the way of progress on the terrorism front, which may serve as a justification for the US drone campaign in the south of Pakistan.

The relationship between United States and Pakistan was always going to be strained as these nations are binded together by one issue. This has always been the case as the Zia regime helped (with the US)  the mujaheddin efforts in Afghanistan to defeat the Soviet Union as the US successfully sought to inflict a Vietnam style humiliation of their communist counterparts. fast forward thirty years and both nations face a threat from the group they funded in Afghanistan, that mutated in to a Bin Laden backed Al-Qaeda, filled with many fighters who took heart from the defeat of the Soviet union and sought to fight a global jihad.While Pakistan have a right to complain about drone attacks their nation and deaths they produce, as the US do not divulge in their process of delineating who is a member of a terrorist group and who is not.

In sum the US and Pakistan relationship will for now remained strained as the United States believe that Pakistan are not honest dealers and Pakistan would like the drone attacks to stop completely. both sides must meet at a compromise on the issue that concerns them both, Terrorism. 

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