Pak-US relationship not as bad as it seems

24 جون 2011
Hussain Haqqani
The US-Pakistan relationship faces new challenges, but recent media characterisation of a breakdown in relations is clearly exaggerated.
Hyperbole and soundbites are influencing discussion of a crucial international partnership. During recent interaction with members of Congress and the media I have been asked why Pakistan has not gone after those who helped Osama bin Laden live in a compound in Abbottabad. Moreover, we have been accused of arresting those who assisted in the raid that killed bin Laden.
The truth is, many persons have been detained or questioned by Pakistani intelligence to identify members of bin Laden’s support network. Even if some people were arrested for collaborating with a foreign intelligence service, that would not be different from the United States arresting Jonathan Pollard for spying on behalf of America’s friend Israel. Allies share intelligence. They should not be found conducting espionage on one another. It is now time for all of us to take a deep breath and objectively evaluate the realities of the relationship between America and Pakistan in a way that furthers our shared goals and objectives. Public recrimination and cynicism is not the way forward. I have practically lived on Capitol Hill since bin Laden’s elimination and fully realise the frustration and agitation of the US Congress with what it perceives to be the lack of adequate cooperation between our two governments, militaries and intelligence services.
Conversely, the standing of the United States in Pakistan, which has not been high for decades, has sunk to what may be its lowest level in history. Most Pakistanis mistrust the motives of the United States, believing America is somehow manipulating, exploiting, patronising and treating us with contempt. The fear that the United States will desert Pakistan once again, as it did at the end of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1989, is widespread.
Some ask how bin Laden could live in Pakistan for years “in plain sight”? The episode is a moment of introspection for both Pakistan and the United States. On the Pakistan side, a high-level commission - along the lines of the 9/11 Commission and Warren Commission - will determine how bin laden lived in Pakistan without detection and how we can improve our surveillance to root out other terrorists in our country. It will also investigate how a foreign force, albeit an ally, could penetrate our airspace and conduct a military operation without our knowledge.
On the US side, there needs to be an examination as to why the US did not feel the need to inform the Pakistani leadership of the operation, being sensitive to the negative signals unilateral military action send to the people of Pakistan about our alliance. America asks whether Pakistan is an ally and can be trusted. And of course, the same questions are being asked about the United States in Pakistan.But let us remember that there is an elected democratic government steering the bilateral relationship on our side after a long period of dictatorships supported by Washington. A democratic Pakistan will always be aligned with the values and interests of the civilised world, and clearly with the free world’s leader, the United States of America, even when there are differences on some issues from time to time as among all friends.
(Courtesy: CNN)